Flannel Cat

Chaos by the Numbers

There seems to be some notion that I have been “slacking off” recently,  doing nothing but eating take-out food and traipsing about the neighborhood, looking at wildflowers.  After all, it is summer!  Usually by about this time, I have the human female’s work life all tied up in knots with large course orders for fall from the Vendor Who’s Responsible and the Purveyor of Squiggly things and the Purveyor of Dead Things.  Not to mention plans for the Dead Cat Ballet.

This year, everything is different.  Instead of dealing with so many concrete objects, I have extended my mischief largely into the realm of the abstract, and believe me when I tell you:  the numbers add up to maximum chaos.

Days remaining in the self-isolation/quarantine the humans are having to do, on account of being exposed to The Virus: 10

Number of weeks that the human female has been working from home: 14

Number of pounds she’s gained: Approximately (There is probably a correlating number of bags of chips consumed, but she has been hiding the evidence, so it’s hard to tell for sure.)

Number of days per week the human male spends at least some time on campus: 3 to 4

Number of times he has found construction vehicles occupying or blocking his reserved, numbered parking space: 8

Number of Zoom meetings per week:  2 to 5 for the human female, 10 for the male.

Number of times per day I jiggle the router and make the home internet connection drop3 to 10

Number of times I have made the human female’s internet browser seize up so that it will not make bookmarks or remember her history, causing her to scramble to try to figure out where was that thing she needs to find again: 2

Gigabytes of personal files she has removed from her work system in preparation for retiring: 8

Number of personal file folders that vanished in download entirely: 1

Number of major projects the human female is working on: 6

Number of minor projects: 3

Number of Tech Is Intro Bio is short: 1

Number of Bio lecturers who have decamped to other departments with not a lot of warning: 1

Average number of undergraduates in the Intro Bio program in the fall: 3,000

Percent increase in Biology enrollment predicted for fall: 15

Number of persons the largest classroom on campus this fall will hold: 600

Number of persons that will actually be allowed to occupy said room: 120

Usual number of Intro Bio lab sections:  About 120

Percent occupancy allowed for teaching rooms: 40

Usual number of students per lab section: 24

Number of half-sections per section this fall: 2

Number of students who will be allowed in each lab half-section in the fall: 12  (Because, of course, 12 is 40% of 24.  Ask the Provost.)

Original number of minutes in a lab section: 170

Minutes in the new, shorter sections for Bio 111 and 112 in the past few years: 110

Minutes in the Corona-shortened, online sections this spring: 60

Minutes in the Biology 107 and 112 half-labs this fall: 70

Minutes in the Biology 111 half-labs this fall: 50

Minutes mandated between lab time slots for passing and cleaning: 30

Minutes mandated between half-lab time slots: 20

Minutes mandated at noon for deep cleaning everything on campus: 45

Average number of days between conflicting “This is how we will Do Things” directives that come down from University Admin: 7

Man-hours spent trying to figure out what to teach in tiny bites of time and how to teach it: Dozens and dozens and counting

Percent of fall course order that can be ordered until lab syllabus and activities are firmly decided upon: 0

Weeks wait time for glove orders: 5? 7? 10?  No one knows.  (That’s not true.  I know, but I’m not telling.)

Percent increase in price of biodegradable nitrile gloves: 30

Percent budget cut everyone is sure is coming: 15

First day of fall semester:  August 19 (moved up)

Estimated date of completion of second floor construction:  August 19 (moved back)

Weeks between first day of class and first day of labs: 1

Number of times Anatomy and Physiology will have been moved in the last few years:  (Let me count:  up, down, up…down): 4

Rooms which will not be ready when the semester starts: At least 1

Number of stools which will have to be carted downstairs to put in the new labs whose stools will not yet have arrived: x/2, where x is the number of stools on the third floor.  (Guess having half the students per lab on the third floor works out well for the second.)

Number of rooms that have to come *off* the Biosafety Level 1 permit: 1

Unscheduled AC outages so far: 1

Scheduled AC, power, and water outages: 1 eachAnd no one knows when or how long.

Square feet removed from room 302 for new conduits: 25

Number of currently-intact walls in the Prep Staff office: 3

Number of from-out-of-country Teaching Assistants who will not be able to be in-country when the semester starts: Unknown, but most assuredly someone will be stuck somewhere!  Visa problems, quarantine, take your pick.

Number of new international Bio grad students who have deferred coming to the U.S. because of the pandemic: 1 so far, with almost certainly more to come.

Percent of Bio faculty who secretly or openly believe the University will have to shut down completely again at some point in the fall: 100

Number of times the human female’s Prep Staff have got the forensics electrophoresis gel to work: 0

Chapters of the horrible digital/online course text book the human female has reviewed to date: 44.5

Pages of notes and corrections on said book: 365 and counting

On the home front:

Number of masks made so far: 63

Number of times Taffy Cat has to be shoved off the laptop every time the human female tries to work sitting on the sofa:  Average of 7

Number of piles of upchucked breakfast Flannel Cat left in the living room this morning: 4

Number of days per week the struggling baby hollyhocks must be hand-watered: 7

Height, in meters, of the tallest sunflower this year: 3+  And half of them try to get into the car with the human female every single time.

Days over 100°F so far: 1

Days that have felt like over 100°F: Half of May and all of June

Weeks without in-person church attendance: 7

Number of old TV series binge-watched: 3

Episodes in the English-dubbed Chinese fantasy drama the human female has been working her way through: 50


How the Felines Are Handling the Crisis

The Terror Twins seem to be taking having the humans home all day very much in stride.

At my urging, they are keeping up with their lounging duties.  No object is too lumpy or uncomfortable,


There is no piece of furniture that doesn’t need warming,

pikey cat

No cozy space is too dark or too small,


And there’s nothing that can’t be improved with the addition of some cat hair.

Lounging, of course, is only part of the program.  They DO help with chores.  Like laundry:

basket cat

And home security.  I’ve arranged regular visits from those windowsill lizards, just to keep the blinds rattling and assure a steady supply of kitty-nose prints on the glass.


There are stuffed mice and pom poms to chase.  And leave in the bed—but only if they’re stiff and soggy with cat spit.

Mostly they get along.  There’s quite a bit of reciprocal ear-washing that goes on.

kitties washing

But then someone washes too hard…

washing kitties 2

And that leads to cranky patty-cake, which leads to thumpy tussling, which leads to high-speed chases with full lights and sirens.  That’s always amusing, especially since they tend to skid a lot.

Sometimes, they and I put our heads together and think up new and interesting mischief, as well as new and more inconvenient places to harf up breakfast or a hairball.

Today we are discussing the fact that this week’s mail brought Ominous Postcards, one addressed to each of them.

vet time

License tags mean vet visits, and vet visits mean shots.  This demands action.


Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Of course, aside from lounging and hindering and harfage and dreaming up new ways of being obnoxious at the vet, Flannel Cat and Taffy Cat have somewhat limited options, since they are indoors-only.  The human female keeps telling them that they are lucky to live in such a nice house with nice (ha!) people, plenty of food, and lots of soft places to sit.

Outdoor kitties often meet with misfortune.  Poor old Marty, for example.


Oh, no!  Marty, it seems, has gone missing.  There are posters up all over the neighborhood.

Let us examine the sign:


I take it back.  Sounds like Marty knows what’s what and is out there living his best life.

You go, Marty!

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Keeping My Hand In, Part II: I Think “DEA” Stands for Drug Enjoyment Agency

Ah.  The seasons turn.  The air is golden with grass pollen.  The dandelions bloom and puff in the lawn.  The mockingbird sings from that one dead branch the human female can’t reach, even with the ladder…

And the DEA paperwork comes.

bad DEAform2

Astute minions may recall that every year the human female has to swear that she will not make meth in the basement. 

And look!  This year, the Vendor Who Doesn’t Want to Be Responsible if she should take it into her head to start financing things with some illicit pharmaceuticals has helpfully sent her a copy of last year’s completed form.

Here it is in its unredacted glory:

bad DEA form

I believe the Midgardian word is “trippy.”

Flannel Cat, who Takes Things Seriously, does not approve.

work from home helper

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Enough Plants! Time for Some Mischief!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had enough flowers for one week.  Time for some mischief.

Hmm.  What to do, what to do…  I know, I shall enlist the assistance of my furry minions, the Terror Twins.  I have been training them, you see.

They have become quite adept at sleeping and shedding on the human male’s jackets and tote bags.

cats on coats

As well as the human female’s pillow.

flannel and taffy

Is that what I think it is?


No, it couldn’t possibly be.  The cats simply aren’t allowed to jump up on the stove.



I’m especially proud of Flannel Cat.  She’s got quite the sensitive, artistic nature.  She has recently become quite intrigued by some of the intricate papercut art she’s seen on the internet.  Projects like this:

Flannel’s not there just yet, but she’s made a good start…


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Odin’s Eyepatch! I Was Right!

Saying, “I told you so!” doesn’t always bring satisfaction.  My worst-case scenario imaginings have proven to be preternaturally accurate.

Sigyn and I used to have to share the house with one ancient, somewhat crotchety cat who spent most of her time sleeping, but it appears that the household has been augmented by not one but TWO young, energetic felines.

Sigyn is already smitten by the gray one.  She says it looks “sweet and so, so soooooft.”


Be careful, beloved!  It might just be lulling you into a false sense of security.

Still, I have reason to believe we might have less to fear from it than from the other, swirly-sided one.


Stop, you foul beast!  Do not lick my sweetie’s head!

Oh, these two will require careful monitoring as they seem to be very, very pouncy.


They are quite cunning, as well as ceaseless in their pursuit of amusements.  Cat treats in an empty carton slowed the swirly one down for mere moments.


Still, I suppose I should look upon this as an opportunity rather than a catastrophe (pun very much intended.)

There is all sorts of mischief I can teach these two.  The prolific shedding is an innate talent, so they need only be introduced to black dress pants and white blouses.


I believe this is going to be great fun!  I have already taught the Terror Twins to play in their water dishes, scrabble across the laminate in pursuit of toys with the frenzy usually reserved for Stanley Cup finals, sharpen their claws on the doorways, dodge in and out around the humans’ ankles with stealth and agility proportionate to the bulkiness and/or fragility of what the humans are carrying, and meep piteously at 5:00 a.m.  The swirly one eats anything in sight, while the gray one must be shut away with her food until she deigns to finish it, or else the swirly one will ferret it out and wolf it down.

These two felines have two cat beds, a carrier, and two capacious laps upon which to recline.  Yet, at my urging, what are their preferred lounging spots?


The cardboard box from the grocery,


and the human female’s laptop bag!  It has gone from being black and smooth to patchily grayish and fluffy.  Ehehehehehe!

Fickleness, thy name is “Feline.”

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