Friday, June 30, 2006
The human pet opened the door, and she nearly took a step back when she saw it was Phil.
"I thought this Amazing Zeus campaign was over!" she said with a huff.
"Hardly. He has four more stops to go, and we're also considering having him go to one bonus city," replied Phil.
"Bonus city? What does that mean?" asked the human pet.
"We've been throwing the idea back and forth about having him visit a secret location - one which does not have any of his feline friends there, but where he can do some interesting things nonetheless. What do you think?" said Phil.
"I think this is silly is what I think! He's a c-a-t, CAT! Just who watches this show anyhow? I haven't seen it on any of the networks," stated the human pet.
"Then you must not be watching Animal Planet, BBC, BBC America, Bravo, The Discovery Channel, The Fine Living Network, or The Travel Channel," answered Phil curtly.
"Oh you're full of it, Phil! I watch nearly all of those regularly, and Zeus is never on!" said the human pet angrily with a wave of her hand. She turned to look at me on the couch, and I shuddered as I saw her eyes. "Zeus, get over here so Phil can leave!"
"Marina, why do you have to be so cold to me every time we see one another? You weren't always this way," said Phil softly.
Turning her attention back to Phil, the human pet replied, "Phil, put yourself in my shoes. Sure, I was a bit star-struck in the beginning when you would come to pick up Zeus, but now, you've been here nearly a dozen or more times! It just drains on someone to expect company at such early hours without notice. It's hardly, dare I say, 'amazing' if you ask me."
Phil picked me up from the tile floor and held me close. He lowered his voice slightly and said, "I'm sorry for annoying you, Marina. We'll be out of your way now."
Phil looked rather sad in my opinion, and I felt torn between my human pet and my friend. I didn't like being in the middle at all, but I knew I was probably going to forget about it as soon as I got onboard my flight to Gainesville, Florida. I was off to see The Feline Oligarchy!
The flight was completely smooth, and traveling to the Oligarchy's house was a breeze. Ever since the production crew learned to arrange for taxis in advance, I have never had a problem. The weather in Florida was just as delightful as it had been when I had visited the first time. Lush and green, the palm trees lined the highway, darting the verdant landscape. When I arrived at the house, I walked up the beautiful pathway and knocked on the front door.
A very nice human lady pet answered and said, "Zeus, we are so thrilled to have you here with us! The whole gang is going to be super excited to meet you finally! Come on in!" She opened the door for me, and I entered into the wonderful house. I noticed the Oligarchy's indoor playground with its holes and perches, and I was in awe. I didn't have anything like that at my house!
"Zeus, you're here! Well, this is great!" said Alberta as she approached to greet me.
"We're all so happy you could make it. We've been looking forward to this for a long time," stated Blackie as he gave me a headbutt.
"Do you have any idea what we'll be doing today, Zeus?" asked Charlie as she came up to say hello.
"I don't know yet, but I think it will be fun," I said. "It's always fun!"
"That's so true," said Sky as he too gave me a headbutt. "I think we've all had fun just reading your adventures!"
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, and we all knew instinctively that it must be Phil! The Oligarchy's human lady pet opened the door, and sure enough, we were all right!
"Alberta, Blackie, Charlie, Sky, and Zeus. You have $200.00 for this leg of the race. Here is your first clue. Make sure to read it carefully, and be safe on your travels."
We tore open the clue and read it together:
Make your way to the Gainesville Ballet Theatre. Once there, search for your next clue.
Sky raised a curious eyebrow. "Is this serious? I mean, you can't really expect us to go to a ballet theatre and dance! We're guys," he said, but then Sky saw the look on Alberta's and Charlie's faces. Coughing suddenly, he said, "Well, almost all of us."
"Perhaps we just have to search for the clue, and there won't be any dancing involved. I heard those ballet slippers crunch your paws, and I'm not into having my toesies crunches," replied Alberta.
The Oligarchy's human lady pet was kind enough to drive us to the Theatre. When we arrived, we discovered that this theatre was unlike other theatres in that the dancers never received pay. Apparently, homo sapiens call this "nonprofit", and for the life of us, we couldn't understand why someone would come to work and not be paid for it. The homo sapiens there told us that they got paid, but not in money. (This just made the whole thing even more vastly confusing than it had been in the first place.) The entire theatre is supported by businesses in the community, and for little homo sapiens (a.k.a. children), the theatre serves as a great place for cultural development.
Alberta padded off to look for the clue among the black curtains that lined either end of the stage. Blackie decided to look for the clue at the top of the theatre, crawling along the bar that held the huge canisters of lights. Charlie hopped off to speak to the choreographer of the dancers, and Sky had a long talk with the company manager. Both of them thought maybe the homo sapiens might have seen the clue, but all of the humans gave us very confused and baffled looks. I don't think they thought felines belonged in ballet.
After a few minutes had passed, Alberta cheered loudly: "I found it! I found it! It was stuck here in the folds of the curtains!" We all ran onto the stage to read the clue together:
Make your way to the Sante Fe River Canoe Outpost. Once there, rent a canoe and travel to Ginnie Springs.
"This is really exciting! We're going to travel down the river," exclaimed Sky.
"Yes, but the river means water. If I get wet, you will never hear the end of it!" said Alberta firmly.
"Well, let's not do anything then to tip the boat so we all stay dry!" I said. I have to admit: I was a bit nervous as well about the canoe trip. Felines and water do not mix!
We made our way back to the Oligarchy's human lady pet. With a smile, she helped us all into the car, and we drove a short distance to the Outpost. At first, I had thought we would be traveling down the infamous Suwannee River, but I found out that this was the Santa Fe River. Though it had no songs about it like the Suwannee, it was still gorgeous enough to warrant a tune or two in its honor!
At first, we thought we were going to have difficulties obtaining a canoe like the clue had instructed. There was to be no pets allowed in the park. I attempted to explain to the people of the Outpost that we had left the Oligarchy's human pet in the car, but they kept stating that it was the five of us which were the problem. I was so annoyed that I almost hissed, but thank goodness the production crew intervened and explained the situation to the Outpost crew in a language they understood!
Traveling down the Santa Fe was an amazing experience. Though the five of us could not very well paddle, our guide more than made up for our lack of opposable thumbs. We saw beautiful trees of every variety: pine, cypress, and oak. We also saw several alligators and some very large birds. We had been told we might see a turtle or two, and so I kept a keen eye out for my friend, Shellie, but we had no luck.
When we arrived in Ginnie Springs, we searched for the clue in every spring and hollow tree. Homo sapiens that were milling about shot us weird glances and whispered about us (as if we could not hear their comments with our sharp sense of hearing!), but that did not deter us! We found the clue inside the Gift Shop, and so the five of us huddled together once more to read:
Make your way to Kanapaha Botantical Gardens.
"WOOHOO!" screamed Blackie. "We wanted to take you there, Zeus! How awesome that Phil read our minds!"
"More likely our postcard," snickered Alberta.
"I have been wanting to go too. The picture you sent me was amazing! I think it just looks spectacular!" I said.
We made our way to the parking lot for Ginnie Springs, and surprisingly enough, the Oligarchy's lady pet was waiting for us. She gave us all scritchins and checked our fur to make sure we had no fleas, flies, mites, or chiggers that hopped along for a free ride! Once more, she helped us into the car, and we made the drive back towards their house for they do not live far from the gardens.
When we arrived at Kanapaha Botantical Gardens, we all climbed out and made our way through the entrance. I hadn't known this, but the name, Kanapaha, is actually the name of the lake which the gardens surround. Kanapaha is a word which comes from the Timucua Indian words for "palmetto leaf" and "house". The reason that was the name of the lake is because long ago, Timucua Indians used to build thatched dwellings along the banks of the Lake Kanapaha. How very interesting it was to be so close to history!
We walked along lush pathways that were filled with some of the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. The Crinum and Rose Gardens were simply spectacular! Most of the flowers in those two gardens were species that did well in the climate of Florida. We spent some time examining the Butterfly Garden as well which was filled with foliage that was meant to both be food for baby caterpillars and flowering for adult butterflies. (I immediately recognized this place as the picture which the Oligarchy had sent to me!)
We made our way past Lake Kanapaha and were led by our noses to the Herb Garden. There, in large brick beds, were some of the finest culinary herbs: basil, oregano, rosemary, and of course, catnip!
"Oh, do you smell it? I know you smell it," said Blackie to Charlie.
"Do you think we could just swipe some of it for ourselves? It's not like they will miss just a wee bit of it," asked Charlie.
"Are you two nuts?! We could get in serious trouble over that!" said Alberta.
"You know you want some nip." Sky looked at Alberta as if to say that he knew her real intentions. "You can't pretend to be good all the time!"
"Umm, well if the four of you want some for yourselves, I can just watch guard over here. I'll let you know if anyone is coming," I said.
"Wow, Zeus! You're the best!" said Blackie. The Oligarchy ripped bits and pieces of the catnip plants while I watched the nearby pathways for any sign we might be spotted. Soon, the four kitties were meowing and rolling about in the herbs! I turned around to find the four of them, eyes glazed, on their backs, admiring the sunlight.
"I think we need to get going. You can't poop out here in the Herb Garden," I said.
"But this is heavenly! I don't think I ever want to leave," said Charlie.
With a long sigh, Alberta said, "He's right, he's right, darn it, he's right! We need to go home, yes we do, we do, do, do!"
I tried not to giggle at my friends in their stupor, but it was sort of funny. We made our way back to the parking lot where the Oligarchy's human pet met us with a bizarre look. "The four of you snuck some catnip, didn't you?" she asked with some concern.
Blackie waved his paw at her as he said, "Nonsense, woman. I don't know what you're talking about."
"Mmm-hmm," said the human lady pet. "I think it's time we get the four of you home then just as soon as we drop off Zeus at the airport!"
I want to thank The Feline Oligarchy for inviting me to Gainesville, Florida! I had such a very special time with the four of you, and I really feel I got to face my fear of water head-on! I may actually think about letting my human pet give me a bath now. I would also like to give a special thanks to the Oligarchy's human lady pet for driving us to every place we visited. I hope you were not too terribly upset concerning the catnip!
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tiffy dearest, I hope you can hear me....
We were all so sad when we heard the news of your departure to take your new journey. My mama (yes, I do know what she is) cried and cried when she read the notice, and then she just stared at Isis and me for the longest time. She didn't say anything, and she didn't need to - we understood her just fine. It's sad when we have to leave suddenly without formal good-byes, and I knew immediately that we needed to send you one of our special thought-mails.
I hope you are greeted by many wonderful friends of ours who have gone on the same journey before you: Grandpa Norton, Silas, Edloe, Pebbles, Eppy, and so many more who we do not even know personally. I even sent a special thought-mail to Aditi, the Siamese who I came to know a few months ago. She and I were special friends, and she had such a kind heart. I told her to mother you a little when you arrived, but be forewarned: she's a bit talkative!
I will miss hearing of you and your grand adventures in Singapore. I will miss watching you grow up before my eyes. I will always see you in my mind as being an ever-playful, adorable, little kitty, and I am sure that you smile down even now upon those who took you and cared for you. I know you bear them no ill-will, but it will take them time to know that inside.
You know, little one, I won't say good-bye. I don't think I should. Good-bye would indicate that there was some sort of finality to it all, but that's simply not true. Instead, I will say, "Until we see one another again!" Yes, that seems more appropriate. For I will see you, my friend...just not now.
Should you choose, send your consolations to 5-Cat Style and the Flyer.
I awoke early this morning to find the human pet had laid a beautiful card by my head. At first, I thought it was from her, but then I sniffed the paper and realized it had been sent by other felines! Excited and curious, I opened it up to read:
Kanapaha Botantical Gardens
May 30, 2006
We just can't wait for you to come visit us in Gainesville, Florida! You can be head of the Oligarchy for the day and be in charge of the entire house and eat all the stinky goodness you want. Be sure to tell us your favorite. We are sending a photocard instead of a postcard because we could not find a postcard for Gainesville that did not have either an alligator or a sports' facility on it. While we will be happy to take you to some University of Florida facility, should you want to go, or find you an alligator to look at, we really want you to come visit us and see some natural Florida - other than alligators. We also want to take you to this Kanapaha Botantical Gardens place which is right down the road from our house. They grow some KILLER catnip in the herb garden which will make your trip all worth while.
Can't wait for you to get here!
Alberta, Sky, Blackie, and Charlie
I bit my bottom lip for a moment upon reading this for I suddenly thought of all of the horrible things I had said about catnip users and homo sapiens with their selling of this illegal substance. I knew The Feline Oligarchy was a great group of friends, but how could I tell them that I didn't use catnip? Would they be ok with that? Would they ostracize me? Would I have to succumb to peer pressure nonetheless and dip my nose into it, lick it up, and then roll mindlessly in it?
Hopefully, they will take me as I am, even with my strict no-catnip stance.
Monday, June 26, 2006
When Phil came to pick me up this morning for my next journey, he arrived promptly at 5:00. I was already awake, but the human pet came stumbling out from her bedroom. She looked like she was frightened, and as she turned the corner and saw Phil standing in the foyer, she squinted her eyes at him and groaned.
"What's wrong with her?" asked Phil.
"I think she's delirious. You know she doesn't get up at this time usually," I answered.
As she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, the human pet said, "Tell me I am dreaming. Tell me Phil Keoghan is not in my foyer at five in the morning."
"Is it such a bad thing, Marina?" chuckled Phil.
"How would you feel if some strange person came into your house at five in the morning, Phil? I can call you 'Phil', yes? I mean, seeing as though you have been to this house now a number of times, I think we can move on to a first name basis." I was a bit stunned at the human pet's response to my friend, Phil, but he only chuckled more.
"Marina, why don't you go back to bed, and we can talk later sometime?"
Grumbling and muttering, the human pet turned and walked back down in the hall. We heard her bedroom door slam, and no sooner had the door been closed then the sounds of snoring came drifting into the living room. "Well, we need to get going, Zeus. Today is a very long trip. You're going to make several flight changes, and probably within twenty or so hours, you will be in Singapore."
Singapore?! Why that was halfway across the world! I was truly in for an adventure this time!
The flight to Singapore was truly the longest experience I have ever had. It reminded me of those times when the human pet and I lived in The Apartment. When she had to go out of town to Pittsburgh to see her family, she would take me to the V-E-T, not so I could get seen for medicine, but rather, to be boarded. She would leave me there in the super fancy condos with purebreed felines (and oh how they teased me for not being pure enough for their tastes!), and I would wait with baited breath for her return...cooped in this condo with no place to go! That was what the flight was like! For 25 hours, I was on an airplane with only two stops: one in Los Angeles, CA, and the other in Hong Kong. By the time I arrived in Singapore, I was kissing the sweet earth beneath my paws and thanking the Lord for keeping my tail in one piece!
As I walked through the airport, by ears were perked as I heard many different types of languages. It was completely fascinating! Yes, there was English being spoken, but I could also hear Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. So many different tongues in one place was truly amazing in and of itself!
I stepped outside to see if I could find a taxi, but instead, a human lady with a big smile on her face walked up to me with a pretty wicker basket. She knelt down and scratched me behind the ears which immediately made me love her!
"Welcome to Singapore, Zeus! I'm The Letter B. I'm so glad you came to visit here!"
She opened the wicker basket, and I jumped inside. However, as she turned around, I managed to lift up the lid with my head in time to see Phil approaching us.
"Ooo, here he comes!" whispered TLB.
"The Letter B and Zeus. You will have $800.00 Singapore Dollars for this leg of the race. Here is your first clue. Read it carefully, and be safe on your travels."
Phil handed the clue to TLB. My eyes were still in awe of the $800.00 Singapore dollars we received! TLB explained to me, however, that that was equal to about $500.00 US dollars. Getting used to currency conversions is something I will need to work on!
We read the clue together:
Make your way to The Jurong Bird Park. Once there, search for your next clue.
My mouth started salivating as I imagined all of the tasty, feathered creatures that might lived in the park. I was truly hoping that perhaps the clue was stuck inside a bird, and I would have to get it out through the only way that Mother Nature intended for me to use: my bare paws! However, TLB told me that I could not harm the birds, and that I would need to be on my best behavior. I knew she was right.
When we entered the park, the Chilean Flamingos caught our eye to our right. I immediately began to become frightened. I had heard how Moose had cornered these scary and manipulative beasts, and how he had saved the lives of his human pets as the pink, pompous, pruners made their way stealthily along his front yard. TLB assured me that the flamingos (if that was their real name!) meant no harm to me, but I was not buying it. My hair stood on end, and I hissed vehemently to them to let them know that I too would not put up with their shenanigans!
We walked a little further up the path and noticed that the Macaw Courtyard was just past the Penguin Parade. I really wanted to see the parrots since I had heard from some reliable sources that they could talk. After having met a talking cow, I didn't think it so odd to try to meet a talking bird!
We entered into the exhibit, and I could not believe how colorful the birds were. Vibrant feathers of roaring red, yowling yellow, and gorgeous green filled my eyes! Of course, my ears were ripped apart from the constant screeching, but managed to fight through the pain. I was just trying to find one parrot who could hold an intelligent conversation with me, and if that meant obtaining a headache in the process, then so be it.
Parrots can live up to fifty years, but some of the ones living in the Jurong Bird Park are in danger of extinction. Apparently, homo sapiens are cutting down these parrots' environments, and with the loss of their homes, the birds are not able to meet one another easily to have families. At least at the Bird Park, the parrots are able to meet and socialize with one another, and they can see that they are not completely all alone!
We were just about to turn the corner to head off to the World of Darkness exhibit when I heard a peculiar voice:
"Zeus, wanna clue? AWCK!"
I turned my head in every direction and looked at TLB to see if she knew where the strange voice had come from. After a minute or two, we decided we were imagining it.
But then we heard it again: "Zeus, wanna clue? AWCK!"
"Where is that blasted sound coming from?" said TLB.
I turned my head to the left, and I saw the strangest sight. There, sitting on a small branch of a tree was a beautiful green parrot. He winked at me and shook his head. I noticed there was something in his mouth, and I tapped the outside of the wicker basket excitedly. TLB followed my eyes, and when she spotted the parrot, she said, "Oh my goodness! He has a tiny clue in his mouth!"
TLB reached out her hand, and the little green fellow dropped the clue onto her palm. We opened the tiny, itsy, bitsy clue together and squinted our eyes to read:
Make your way to the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Once there, make your way to the National Orchid Garden in the Central Core, and search for your next clue.
"Oh wow! Orchids are my human pet's favorite flower," I said to TLB. "I wonder if I will be able to pick a few to take home to her."
TLB laughed softly and said, "I think you will get your paws into big, big trouble if you were to pick any of the flowers, Zeus. It's best to keep your paws to yourself!"
The Singapore Botanical Gardens were simply amazing! There were so many beautiful paths to walk along to observe the beautiful flowers. It was obvious many people were needed to keep such a pristine place in its fabulous condition. We walked through Minden Gate along a path to our left which led us past the Marsh Garden Ponds. As we walked a bit more, we past Swan Lake which really had swans swimming
along the top of the water! We continued along, turning right and left where the path curved, past the Sundial Gardens and Floral Cloak and through the Ginger Garden, until we found the entrance to the National Orchid Garden.
I hadn't known this, but all of the orchids in the garden were actually 'made' by homo sapiens. Special gardeners made sure that only the best orchids were produced for the garden, and then they carefully arranged them to make sure the flowers made pretty presentations. There were over 1000 species of orchids, and then over 2000 'hybrids' (ones which were man-made) in the garden! Nestled in the stems and leaves of the fantastic orchids is where we found our next clue.
We opened the clue together and read:
Make your way to 5-Cat Style and the Flyer. Once there, meet with Bombay and Bangles and wait for further instructions.
"Oh wow! I am actually going to get to meet Bombay and Bangles?! That's so exciting!" I said.
TLB nodded. "I really have had such a terrific time with you, Zeus. I only wish that we could have done more things together."
I agreed. I headbutted TLB three or four times and placed my front paws on her left shoulder to nuzzle her ears. "You were a very good hostess, TLB! Thank you for joining me!"
TLB helped me get to the home of 5-Cat Style and the Flyer as I was still very, very (did I mention very?) unfamiliar with how to get around Singapore. We walked up together to the sisters' house and knocked on the door. 5-Cat Style opened the door (I recognized her from the blog!) and screamed!
"Flyer! Get over here! It's Zeus! He's here! Make sure to get Bombay and Bangles!"
She scooped me out of TLB's arms and snuggled me to her chest. I purred and purred! I had never really been met with such an affectionate greeting. Typically, only my human pet ever said hello to me like that! 5-Cat Style invited TLB inside and closed the door behind her. Flyer came into the room also and soon, all three human lady pets were watching us with smiles on their faces. 5-Cat Style placed me on the floor where I saw Bombay and Bangles staring at me with huge grins.
"So you met our Foster Mommy? She's terrific, yeah?" said Bombay.
I nodded and laughed. "She's very loving!"
Bombay and Bangles both chuckled. "Have you been having a fun time in Singapore? What have you done thus far?" asked Bangles.
I informed them of my trip to the Jurong Bird Park and my tour of the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Bangles was fascinated when I mentioned the talking green parrot with the clue in his mouth. Bombay wanted to hear more about the orchids and how they were presented in the garden.
Just then, there was a knock on the door, and the three of us laughed. "Ten dollars says it's Phil!" said Bangles.
"Fifteen dollars says its Phil!" said Bombay.
"I don't think you're supposed to raise his bet, Bombay," I said with a grin.
5-Cat Style opened the door and, as if we hadn't known, it was Phil!
"Bombay, Bangles, and Zeus. You will use the money given to you this morning when you were with The Letter B to continue on this leg. Here is your next clue. Make sure to read it carefully, and be safe on your travels."
We opened the clue and read it together:
Make your way to the Night Safari.
"Wow! The Night Safari! I have always wanted to go!" said Bombay.
"We're in for a really special time," said Bangles.
"Have you two been there before?" I asked.
"Nope, but we have heard a lot about it. They have lots of different animals there, and some of them are very endangered. I wonder what we will see!" said Bangles.
As if she was a mindreader, 5-Cat Style looked down at the three of us as we were discussing our plans and said, "Alright, you three, let's get going. I want to make sure you get to see everything there is to see!"
5-Cat Style helped the three of us catch service 171 to Mandai Road. We had to transfer to a different bus then, service 927, which took us directly to the Night Safari. The whole trip took roughly about an hour, but in that time, Bangles, Bombay, and I got to talk about Singapore in general and how it was different than America.
When we arrived, the whole place seemed very myterious, lush, and primal. Strange animal sounds filled the air, and our fur stood on end in excitement! We decided to do the Safari Adventurer Tour because we could ride in a "limo buggy" and have an experienced guide show us around the jungle.
We were able to see lots of different shows, exhibits, and trails. One that was especially fascinating was The Creatures of the Night show. We were actually able to be a part of the show which, mind you, was sort of frightening since many of those animals would love to have felines for lunch. However, the lead trainer, a man named Vinodh Ayathan, kept the owls, pumas, and other nocturnal animals just out of our reach. Vinodh seemed to have a very deep understanding for how animals thought and what they felt, and we were very impressed with his tremendous abilities!
I have never been in a jungle, let alone a jungle at night, and apparently, neither had Bombay or Bangles. However, our trepidation left us when we heard there was a Fishing Cat Trail we could observe.
"Fish and cats?! Super!" said Bombay.
"I wonder if we'll manage to get any fish," I said.
As we watched the trail, we saw different types of felines working on getting their food for the evening. They would walk along the edge of the water, carefully watching the swimming fish, and then pounce on them with such a fury that it made all three of us jump!
"I never have to work that hard to get food," stated Bangles.
"Neither do I. I only headbutt the human pet, and she gives me what I want," I said.
We kept asking the felines if they would share their catch, but none of them wanted anything to do with us. We just got a lot of growls and snaps of the jaw in reply. I suppose, however, that when you have razor-sharp canines and claws longer than my head, you can refuse to give me fish any time you want.
When the tour was over, we walked back to the front gate where 5-Cat Style and the Flyer were waiting for the three of us.
"Did you three have fun?" 5-Cat Style asked.
We all nodded and purred.
"Good! It's time, though, to say good-bye to Zeus, Bombay and Bangles. He has to go to the airport now to catch his very long flight home. I am sure his Foster Mommy misses him," she said.
"Human pet," I corrected her.
Everyone giggled at me, but I still don't know why.
"Thanks a lot for coming such a long way to visit with us, Zeus. I know I had a terrific time with you touring the jungle!" said Bombay.
"Indeed! I might have to try some of those fishing techniques that I observed in the human litter bowl!" said Bangles.
"Umm, there's no fish in there," said Bombay with a disgusted look.
"Oh well, maybe in a poi pond then. We'll have to find one though!" said Bangles happily.
I chuckled and gave my friends hugs. "I will miss the both of you, and I certainly hope that some day in the future, you come to Houston to visit!" I said.
I would like to thank The Letter B for inviting me to Singapore. I had such a very good time with you, and I hope that you will remember it for a long time to come! I would also like to thank 5-Cat Style, the Flyer, Bombay, and Bangles for inviting me to their lovely home. I truly enjoyed meeting all of you, and perhaps the next time, I can meet Gucci and Tiffy!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
I was relaxing in the midafternoon sun when the human pet laid another postcard on my lap. I was so excited that I immediately began to read:
Finally, a postcard from moi, The Letter B! What can I say but please, please put this wee islet on your itinerary. Heh. Or you could persuade your mom to take you here for vacation so that I could show you around to places where the local cats hang out. :D More specifically, the real "Singapura" cats, with more varieties certainly! Really, it's a tad unfair for the "pure breed" to usurp the name, and they don't actually represent the meowies! Anyways, I'm running out of space, I'll write more soon. Before I forget, hello Marina! Hello Isis! Oh, and here's my address (editted for content!) Hope to hear from you soon! :)
Ange Teo / The Letter B
Unbelievable! I am going to Singapore either tomorrow or the next day! I say that because I may leave tomorrow, but actually arrive there on Monday since it takes a whole day to travel there! I guess I better start packing some snacks and drinks now, yes?
I look forward to meeting you The Letter B, and I also look forward to meeting Bangles and Bombay from 5-Cat Style and the Flyer who also sent me a very nice email! Wow! Singapore here I come! Expect me by Monday!!
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Bright and early, even in the depths of a tremendous downpour, Phil arrived at The House to pick me up for my trip to Wisconsin. As soon as he entered The House, I could tell by the look on his face that he had some deep thoughts. My human pet hadn't woken up yet so I was a bit relieved that I wouldn't have to worry about her hitting the carpet.
"What's going on, Phil?" I asked.
"This time is going to be slightly different, Zeus," Phil said. "You're going to be traveling across one whole state in a day, and you won't be staying with the same felines throughout the whole trip. It's going to be very busy so I hope you're up to it."
"I am definitely up to it! I owe it to Bonnie and Victor, The Crew, and Derby to give it my best!" I said.
"Fantastic! Then let's get you to the airport and get started," replied Phil.
When I arrived in Wisconsin, the first thing I noticed was the fresh air. I know this may sound a bit silly, but there is a definite smogginess to Houston air that was not apparent in Wisconsin. As I rode from the airport to my first stop, I saw rolling, green hills which had the most beautiful trees and farmland that seemed to stretch on for miles. It was a very gorgeous, serene landscape to say the least!
The taxi pulled up to a mystery house. I really hadn't been told who I would be meeting first so I gingerly (no pun intended!) walked up the path and hit the doorbell with my paw. The door opened and a strange human lady pet stared down at me in amazement.
"All of you come here! Zeus is here!" she screamed. She beamed from ear to ear and let me inside where I was met by George, Max, and Tipper of The Crew! (Little Misty peeked at me from around the hallway corner, but she never gathered enough courage to say hello. I waved politely to her nonetheless!)
"Well, it's about time you got here, Zeus. We were beginning to wonder if you had forgotten about us!" said George.
"Bah! As if! I wouldn't pass up a chance to meet all of you and tour the great state of Wisconsin," I said.
Max chuckled. "Did you think we would all be Cheese Heads here?"
"Why would I think that?" I asked. "Cats don't have cheese for heads."
Max leaned over to George and whispered, "He doesn't know about football. Bummer!"
"Ahem!" coughed Tipper. "Welcome to our home, Zeus. I am looking forward to having you here! Did Isis come with you?"
I shook my head. "Isis said to tell you that she couldn't come because if she came..." I struggled to remember the exact quote, "she would probably get off the plane and be bitten by fleas, ticks, or mosquitos, contract Heartworm, Tapeworm, Roundworm, or Eyeworms, have to go to the V-E-T, and then more than likely be treated with medicine, and if that happened, she might have an allergic reaction which could lead to ultimate death, and she just couldn't allow any of that to happen." I sucked in some air since I was out of breath just then.
"Wow. She is a bit frightened of being outside, huh?" said Tipper.
I nodded and said, "You have no idea."
Just then, there was a knock on the door. The human lady pet opened the door, and of course, there was Phil.
"George, Max, Tipper, and Zeus: You have $200.00 for this leg of the race. Here is your first clue. Be sure to read it carefully, and be safe in your travels."
"He certainly gets to the point, doesn't he?" whispered Max to Tipper.
We opened the clue together and read:
Make your way to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Once there, search for your next clue.
"Mmm, I love fish," said George. "This is going to be awesome!"
We all nodded in agreement, but as we were walking out the door, The Crew's human lady pet smiled and said, "I have a busy schedule today, but I managed to get a rental car for the four of you to travel in, and as an added plus, it comes with its own driver. I think it should be outside waiting for all of you."
"Is little Misty going to come along with us?" I asked.
"Oh no, Zeus. She's too young to go out with you four. However, I am sure The Crew can tell her all about it when they get back!" replied the human lady pet.
We were so excited that we bolted out of the door to see what kind of car The Crew's human lady pet had requested. It was a nice car as far as cars go...seeing that none of us had really taken notice of them before since they're mostly homo sapien-type toys. The driver opened up the doors for us, and we all hopped into the backseat. We were off to the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame!
When we arrived at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, the first thing that caught all of our eyes were the GIGANTIC FISH! Our mouths started salivating as soon as we saw them.
"Imagine if you could catch one of those," said George. "You would be eating for days!"
"Months!" added Max.
"Years!" added Tipper.
However, it turned out that one of those huge fish was actually called A Shrine to Anglers. Its name was Muskie, and you could walk inside and tour the fishing records and rewards. The wide open mouth was actually a platform so you could walk outside and see for miles and miles in every direction. It was there inside the mouth of Muskie that we found our next clue:
Make your way to the World's Largest Six Pack. Expect the unexpected.
"Expect the unexpected? How can you do that if you don't expect it to begin with?" said Tipper.
"You got me," said Max with a curious look on his face.
"Has Phil ever done this before, Zeus?" asked George.
"No," I replied, "but I suppose there are firsts for everything."
We made our way to the car and drove to La Crosse, Wisconsin. When we arrived, Max and I both were in awe of the large cans.
"Those are the biggest cans I have ever seen!" said Max excitedly.
"I wonder if they're real," I said.
"They're not real, Zeus," said Tipper. "Don't be ridiculous!"
"How do you know?" I asked.
"Because...," began Tipper, "Because....they're not!"
"Well, if you don't know, then we're going to have to find out!" I said happily.
Max and I began jumping and reaching for the top of the cans. They were so large that we really never stood a chance, but it was fun to try! I believe after ten minutes or so we both looked at one another, panting.
"Maybe they really aren't real," said Max.
"Maybe Tipper was right," I said.
"Shhhh! Don't say that where she can hear you!" said Max.
Right then, a strange car pulled up. The driver's side door opened, and out stepped Phil!
"Phil?! What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Zeus, this leg of the race is not over. You must come with me and travel to Madison, Wisconsin," said Phil in his official announcer voice.
"Aww," I said dejected. I was having so much fun with The Crew, and I didn't want to leave them. However, I knew I was probably off to see Bonnie, Victor, and Derby. I turned to the three of them with a smile.
"I had a lot of fun with you three," I said. "I hope maybe someday you will come to Houston to visit with me!"
"It definitely was a lot of fun meeting you, Zeus. Have fun with Bonnie, Victor, and Derby!" said George.
We heard the clicking and ding! ding! ding! of car doors being opened. All four of us turned to look at the car, and we saw Bonnie, Victor, and Derby sitting in the backseat of Phil's car!
"Wow! Hey guys and gal!" said Bonnie as she waved.
"Hello efurrybody!" said Victor with a grin.
"Nice to see you!" waved Derby.
All of us huddled together, exchanged scents, purrs, and headbutts. "If only that Phil guy would let us just have a good old-fashioned kitty party and not all of these silly tasks," said Bonnie.
"We're going to have to probably schedule that one on our own, Bonnie," I said with a chuckle.
"Most definitely!" said everyone in unison.
We said our good-byes to The Crew who then hopped back into their BMW or BWM or something of that nature. We were off to Madison, Wisconsin, and I was so thrilled to finally be in the presence of Bonnie, Victor, and Derby! As we drove along the route, Phil handed us our next clue while we sat in the backseat. We opened it together and read:
Make your way to Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking Cow. Once there, search for your next clue.
"A talkin' cow?! Holy smokes!" cried Victor. "It's not efurryday that you get to meet a talkin' cow!"
Bonnie, however, eyed the clue suspiciously. "I'll believe it when I sees it!" she said.
When we arrived in Neillsville, Wisconsin, and pulled up to Chatty Belle, my eyes were in disbelief. Chatty Belle towered above the landscape! I couldn't believe how big she was! The four of us stepped out of Phil's car and walked over to say hello to the massive bovine.
"Umm, hello der, big heffer!" said Victor.
"I don't think that's really a good way to start off the conversation, Victor," said Derby.
Victor decided to try again: "Hmm, hello der, purdy Belle!"
"Hello! So nice to see you! My name is Chatty Belle, and beside me is my son, Bullet," shouted Chatty Belle.
"Oh my goodness! She really talks!" stammered Bonnie.
"Bullet doesn't talk yet but he's learning," continued Chatty Belle.
"Well that explains why he was so quiet," I said.
"What's your name?" asked the gigantic cow.
"Well, I'm Victor, and dis is Bonnie, my sistur, and Derby, our good friend, and of course, dis is Zeus, and he's from Dexas," replied Victor.
"Well, nice to meet you. Did you know I am the world's largest talking cow? I'm 16 feet high at the shoulders and 20 feet long, seven times as large as the average Holstein!" declared Chatty Belle.
"That's very interesting," remarked Derby. "I wonder how she got to be so big."
"Do you by chance know where da clue is, Chatty Belle?" asked Victor.
"Hello! So nice to see you! My name is Chatty Belle, and beside me is my son, Bullet," shouted the bovine.
"Ermm, we know that already. Where's da clue?" pressed Victor.
"Bullet doesn't talk yet, but he's learning," stated Chatty Belle for the second time.
"I think she might be ill, Victor. Let's just walk around and see if we can find it on our own," I whispered.
"What's your name?" shouted the heffer as if she had not even been properly introduced to us. We left Belle at that point and found the clue nestled in the grass beside the huge cow's hooves. We opened it up and read it together:
Make your way to The University of Wisconsin, Madison. Once there, locate Bucky Badger and participate in a Dance Off.
Bonnie, Victor, and Derby cheered! "Bucky Badger is a legend around here, Zeus! This is awesome that we get to actually meet him!" screamed Bonnie.
"I cannot believe that we're going to meet Bucky!" said Derby with excitement.
"And a Dance Off?! Dis is gonna be good, good, good!" laughed Victor.
We made our way back to Phil's car. Surprisingly enough, Phil was waiting patiently for us. "Did you find the clue?" asked Phil. We nodded, showed him the clue, and with that, he opened the doors for us to the backseat. We made our way to Madison, Wisconsin to meet the infamous Bucky Badger.
When we got to the university, I was a bit overwhelmed. The campus was huge! I was beginning to think that everything was truly oversized in Wisconsin. After all, they do have a lot of land in that state. I suppose they can afford to be a bit bigger with things. We looked in the Allen Centennial Gardens, the Chazen (formerly Elvehjem) Museum of Art, and even the Noland Zoology Building to find Bucky, but we had no luck.
Finally, after we had walked around for an hour, I turned to the others with an idea: "My human pet is a coach, and she always talks about this place called a Gym. Maybe if we find the Gym, we will find Bucky."
"That's a great idea, Zeus!" said Bonnie. Derby and Victor agreed, and so now with a purpose, we searched all of the buildings for something resembling G-Y-M in the name. However, there really wasn't any building with those letters. Tired, pooped, and cranky, we felt we were at a standstill. We sat down near a bench along one of the many walkways, waiting for inspiration to hit us.
And it did! Two human males walked by with a basketball, and as they were talking, we overheard, "...can't wait to watch Bucky and those cats perform in the Dance Off at the Kohl Center! It's going to be pretty wicked!"
"Eureka! Kohl Center! Of course! Why didn't you dink of dat, Bonnie?" said Victor excitedly.
"Bah!" grumbled Bonnie. The four of us, with new energy, now bounded for the Kohl Center. As we approached, we saw lines and lines of young homo sapiens just waiting to get inside. It was obvious this was going to be a big event.
We snuck inside through the legs of the humans and as soon as we entered, a man dressed in a very nice suit and a pair of black sunglasses said, "Excuse me, you four. You need to come with me." He swiped us up in his arms, two underneath each arm, and we were whisked away to the backstage area. It was there that the illustrious Bucky Badger was waiting.
Bucky Badger was a badger of few words. He nodded at us and did a backflip to show us how excited he was to meet all of us. However, he was nothing like Chatty Belle who could talk and talk for hours on end it seemed. He held up his big right paw and put forth two fat, furry fingers, and then pointed to Victor and Derby. We could only take this to mean that only two of us would be participating in the Dance Off, and apparently he wanted those two.
From backstage, Bonnie and I watched as Bucky Badger, Victor, and Derby stepped out onstage to a rather large crowd of screaming fans. The bass began thumping as "Hey Ya!" by Outkast boomed from the speakers. Bucky, Victor, and Derby performed an outrageous routine of flips, sommersaults, and wild dance moves! It was amazing! Victor and Derby were really good at The Robot and moved their paws in rhythm to the music. As the song said, they really "shook it like a polaroid picture"!
When their act was finished, Victor and Derby came running back to us with huge smiles on their faces. "Listen to that crowd! They loved us!" said Derby.
"Dey really liked da way I shook my tail!" said Victor.
We all laughed, and Bonnie and I congratulated them on a job well done. It was then, though, that I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked behind me to see Phil pointing at his watch, indicated my time was up.
"Well everyone, I had a really good time, but I think Phil wants to take us home now, which means he has to drop you off and take me to the airport," I said.
"Aww shucks," said Victor. "I had a furry good time with you, Zeus. We'll have to do it again soon!"
"I did too! Victor didn't even cause that much trouble!" said Bonnie.
"Hey!" shouted Victor.
"I enjoyed meeting you, Zeus. Thanks for coming up here to visit with all of us," said Derby.
"I had a lot of fun with all of you! I definitely will have to come back sometime soon. All of you are more than welcome to come to Houston anytime!"
And so with the sun setting, I reflect on the great fun I had in Wisconsin with my friends The Crew, Bonnie and Victor, and Derby. I had never expected there to be so much adventure in the state of cows and cheese! I feel, though, that I have only scratched the surface, and so one day, in the future, I shall have to return to see what else I can do!
Thank you to all of you for having me visit! I miss all of you already!
The past few days have been very busy as I am preparing to conclude my travels. It seems I have five or six more stops along my journey, and then it will all be over. I can hardly believe it! The response from everyone has been so overwhelming!
Take for example these two postcards:
Hello from Wisconsin
Please come to Madison! There are many fings to see here. The capitol, the UW, the Arboretum, Olbrich Gardens, the Memorial Union... Mom says The House on the Rock is a "classic" destination, but crowded. We'll see!
The University of Wisconsin
Come visit us in the Dairy State. Madison is beautiful right now an there are lotsa birds to see!
So I was already very pumped to go to the grand state of Wisconsin, but then I received a special card in the mail as well:
Diary of a Housecat
1:30-2:30: Cleaned butt
3:30-4:30: Cleaned butt
5:30-6:30: Cleaned butt
6:00-7:00: Did something so adorable humans kissed me on the lips.
7:00-7:30: Snickered. (Hee Hee!)
The Amazing Zeus, Cat Blogger and World Traveler -
Obviously there don't know what full lives we lead!
We can't wait until you get here! Bring Isis...she and Tipper can go shopping while you hang out with Max and me.
And then as if that wasn't enough to get me really, really excited, I got a special email from my friend, Derby, asking me to visit him as well when I go to Wisconsin! It is going to be such a special trip this time that I think it might be what the homo sapiens call "a tour de force"!
I cannot wait to meet each and every one of you, and I plan to ask Isis to come along Tipper, but don't get your hopes up. (You know how she can be...)
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
10. I can eat all the stinky goodness I want because he's not there to hog it all.
9. I don't have to listen to his obnoxious snoring when he falls asleep.
8. I get to play with all of the toys now without having to compete with him.
7. I can watch all of the R-rated movies I want to with The Mama, and no big, fat gingerboy is going to jump on top of me to ruin the experience!
6. It's amusing just to see how he tries to talk to that Phil guy in the morning. I don't think he realizes Phil doesn't speak Cat-onese.
5. The litter box has been exceptionally clean lately without him here.
4. He's so going to need those eardrops when he comes back home!
3. I don't need to ask His Highness' permission if I can sit on the couch.
2. Guests who come over actually spend time with me now because the Attention Hog is not around.
1. I can cuddle and snuggle with The Mama all day long!
Monday, June 19, 2006
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Yesterday morning, Phil knocked on the door at 8:00. I let him inside, and he seemed to be slightly concerned as his eyes scanned the living room, kitchen, and dining room.
"Where is Marina?" he asked softly.
"She had to go to St. Thomas this morning to take her second final. She won't be back until much later," I answered.
Phil nodded. "It's just as well. We don't have to worry about her passing out on the floor now, do we?"
I completely agreed, and I have to admit that privately, I was more than a little relieved when the human pet told me that she had to leave.
Once again, Phil was gracious enough to take me to the airport. The flight out to beautiful Rochester, New York was delightful. The flight attendants saw to my every need, and they even gave me extra peanuts. I felt so special!
After I landed, I secured a taxi and rode out to meet The Meezers. The first thing I noticed, though, was the difference in temperature. It was so mild compared to Houston, Texas. I felt as if I had gone to heaven as there were no mosquitos nipping away at me either!
My driver and I found the house with ease. I walked up to the house and jumped high into the air to ring the doorbell. Ding dong! I could hear padded feet racing to the front door and heavier footsteps following. The door opened, and a wonderful human lady answered the ring.
"Zeus! Miles, Sammy, and Trixie, come here! He's here!"
The very nice human lady pet let me inside where I proceeded to rub against her legs to tell her thank you. Miles lunged at me in a playful manner while Sammy snickered from behind.
"Mommy got us a limo to ride in! We're so 'cited!" said Miles.
"Yep! We goin' to be travelin' in style!" said Sammy.
From around the corner, the wise and loving Trixie came forward. She had a twinkle in her eye and a smile upon her lips. "I'm looking forward to spending some time in the sunshine. I think it's going to be a blast to travel around the town," she said.
I nodded as I was very excited to be with the three of them finally.
There was a knock on the door, and all four of us turned to see who it was. The human lady pet opened the door again, and it was Phil!
"How is it that he knows when you get to houses, Zeus?" asked Sammy.
"Yeah, he knows emmediatly," said Miles.
"It's bizarre, let me tell you. It almost frightens me," I whispered.
Phil stared at all four of us with a seriousness that made our fur stand on end: "Miles, Sammy, Trixie, and Zeus. You have $300.00 for this leg of the race. Here is your first clue. Be sure to read it carefully, and be safe on your travels."
Miles accepted the clue from Phil, and as he opened it, we peeked over his shoulder so we could all read it:
Make your way to the Susan B. Anthony House. Once there, search for your next clue.
"I have never been there!" said Sammy.
"Neither have I!" screamed Miles.
"Well, as it is no surprise, I haven't either," said Trixie with a grin.
"Well, let's get going then!" I said smiling.
We started heading for the door when we heard The Meezers' nice human lady pet say, "Enjoy your day in the limo, you four!"
There in the driveway was the longest limo I had ever seen! It was also the biggest and not quite what I had expected. It had huge wheels, and it sort of resembled a tank. The windows were very dark so we couldn't see into it. The driver stepped out and smiled at us.
"Wow! I bet that's what Kukka-Maria travels in when she goes out and about," said Sammy. I nodded in agreement as did Miles and Trixie.
"Well, we're superstars for today!" said Trixie. We all chuckled, and as the driver opened the doors for us, we hopped inside.
The Susan B. Anthony house was not too far away. We got to walk around and learn a little bit about this famous American woman. Apparently, a long time ago, she was arrested for the "crime" of voting. Women used to not be able to vote like human men. (That's a bit unfair!) Thanks to Susan B. Anthony's courage, all people, whether they're male or female homo sapiens, can vote in America.
We found the clue outside of the house by this statue of Susan B. Anthony. The other man is Fredrick Douglas. He's famous for being what's called an abolitionist - someone who fought against slavery. Together, these two people helped make life more fair for homo sapiens living in America.
It was actually Trixie who spotted the clue. She opened it up, and we all read it together:
Make your way to the George Eastman House. Once there, search for your next clue.
"Who's George Eastman?" I asked. "Do any of you know?" Miles, Sammy, and Trixie all shook their head.
"I guess we'll find out when we get there!" said Miles. "Let's go back to that cool limo! I likes it in there!"
We went back to the limo and enjoyed the scenery as we made our way to the George Eastman House. As it turned out, this George Eastman was a very famous man. He was the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. His house is the oldest photography museum in the entire world! All four of us were very impressed with the different photographs and pictures on display.
We found the clue tucked away between some old cameras as part of the Eastman's House latest exhibition: Machines of Memory. Strangely enough, it was right by this old Charlie Tuna camera! It read:
Make your way to Rock Ventures and enjoy showing off your climbing skills!
"Climbing?! I'm a gr-r-r-eat climber!" cheered Miles.
"This is going to be awesome!" shouted Sammy.
"How about I just watch when we get there?" asked Trixie.
"Bah! We need to all try it!" I said.
And so with that, we hopped into our Hummer limo and off we went to Rock Ventures. When we got there, there were lots of homo sapiens running around with different types of helmets and ropes around them. We didn't understand what all of the hubbub was about. Climbing is climbing, after all! However, we did freeze in our tracks when we saw who the greeter was:
A golden retriever named Kobe.
He sniffed us up and down while we stood there petrified. "Why do four cats want to go rock climbing? Haven't you got some litter you need to use?" He chuckled while we stood there shaking.
"It's a part of the Amazing Zeus!" said Miles. "Maybe you've heard of it?"
Kobe shook his head. "Can't say that I have. You're going to need to pay to get in here. I'm not letting you in so you can cause trouble, you know?"
We hung our heads and gave Kobe one hundred dollars. "Wow. Where did you get this kind of money?" asked the woofie.
"We told you: It's The Amazing Zeus!" said Sammy.
"I need to get involved then. If you make this kind of money, this is something I need to be doing too!" the woofie said.
We all looked at one another and rolled our eyes. Once we were inside though, we could see this was our kind of place. There were so many walls to choose from, but since homo sapiens typically went there, there were plenty of hand and foot holds so they could move up the walls easier. Being cats, we didn't need any of that! We had our claws as our climbing tools, and we definitely got a good work out!
Miles and Sammy raced one another up the walls while Trixie and I cheered them on. Those two are definitely athletic! I could never possibly keep up with their energy. Miles won the first few times, but Sammy came back with a vengence! "I just needed some practice is all. Once I figured out Miles' weak spots, I had no problems!" said Sammy. We all chuckled as it was a lot of fun for everyone.
When we were completely pooped out, we headed back to the Hummer limo. We drove back to The Meezers' home, and we said our goodbyes:
"I had a lot of fun today, Zeus!" said Trixie. "That wasn't at all what I had expected."
Sammy nodded. "I really enjoyed the climbing practice. It was too cool!"
Miles agreed. "I really thought I had you there, Sammy! Maybe next time, I'll win some more!"
I chuckled. "I have no doubt, Miles."
Thank you to Miles, Sammy, Trixie, and the Meezers' human lady pet for letting me visit you in beautiful Rochester, New York. I had such a wonderful time, and it was especially thoughtful of you Ms. Meezers' human lady pet to obtain a limo for us...especially a Hummer limo! I thought we were going to get lost in that big car!
Until we can see one another again,