Carolyn Holm

One Dog, Two Cats
Grand Ideas
InterSpecies Memos

Blackmail

Cher Madame,
The mutt Poppy gets les treats all day long. Toujours les treats.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You get treats sometimes too, sweetie.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Zut alors, not all day long!
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Maybe she does get a few more. I’ve been working with her on her barking.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
few more? Madame deludes herself. There is a treat for the insane barking out the window. A treat for the crazy barking at the neighbor’s skateboard. A treat for the barking when the boys with the bouncing basketball go past. A treat for the announcement bark when Monsieur arrives home. Treats, treats, treats. All day long. Toujours les treats.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Oh dear, I didn’t realize this was becoming such an issue for you. Sweetie, she isn’t getting treats for barking, she is getting treats when she stops barking and comes quietly to me.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This petit cat should get a treat for being quiet all day long.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Oh you do. You get very special food. Nothing ordinary for you, sweetie, you get special, special food. Your dinner is a special treat. Very special.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Vraiment, that is as it should be. 
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Poppy used to just bark like a crazy animal and ignore me when I tried to get her to stop. But now she’s learning to stop barking and come quietly to me. And when she does that, she gets a “Good Girl” treat. I just hope she doesn’t figure out that with this system, she’d get more treats if she barked more often.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
That animal does not have the critical thinking nécessaire to comprehend how to take advantage of Madame’s system.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
True. She’s such an innocent, she’d never figure out anything that wily.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Peut-être Madame should give this petit cat more treats, as insurance. An extra morning treat? 
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Insurance?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Insurance that this petit cat does not inform the innocent dog about how to work Madame’s system.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Ahh, blackmail. Well, we might be able to fit in a morning treat.
Love, Carolyn

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Spooky

Dear Winston,
How did you ever get so spooky?
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
I’m spooky?
Winston

Dear Winston,
You jump up at the slightest sound.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Sounds are very sudden!!!!!! And it’s so much fun to race around like I’m terrified!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
Sometimes I don’t even know what you are spooking about. This morning you were up on the cat tree looking out the window, then suddenly whipped around, jumped down, and raced out of the room.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I heard people!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
Seriously? There was no one anywhere near the window. Maybe half a block away?
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
Still, voices.
Winston

Dear Winston,
And the worst part is, when you do that, it sets Poppy off. 
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
I love when that happens!!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
We don’t. She starts barking hysterically and races to the front door, just because you set her off.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
First she chases me out of the room. Then she races to the front door.
Winston

Dear Winston,
Okay, wait. Are you doing this on purpose?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Possibly.
Winston

Dear Winston,
Well, knock it off.
Carolyn

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PTSD

Dear Mom,
Why do you tell everyone that I have PTSD?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I don’t tell everyone, sweetie. But sometimes it comes up when I’m explaining why you are so wary when you meet new people. And so reactive.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
But I don’t know what it means.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It just means you had a bad experience when you were young that left you traumatized. If I just wave an arm, you startle into frenzied barking. Evidently someone hit you. A lot. But your daily Prozac pill helps. Yours is a sad story. Do you remember any of it?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I just remember terror.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Do you remember having puppies?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I HAD PUPPIES?????????
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You did, sweetie. No one knows what happened to them. But you had been nursing them when you were found. You weren’t even full grown. You were a teenage mom! Do you remember how you were found?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
No. Just the terror. 
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You were racing around Lodi, a small town in the Valley, too terrified to let anyone approach you. Until you were so thirsty you finally let a kind woman give you water. She took care of you for the local rescue group, and I found you on an adoption website. They said you were a terrier mix. Which is hilarious. There is absolutely nothing terrier about you.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
You always like to say I don’t have Terrier Attitude.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
No, you don’t. Terriers are tough, with lots of attitude. You are sweet and gentle. All the more reason to wonder how someone could treat you so badly. But at least you got out of that bad house. You lost your puppies, but you found us.
Love, Carolyn

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Taking Turns

Cher Madame,
The new game, she is very exciting.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I’m glad you think so! You both seem to have a good time with it.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It is like a flying bug.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Who knew that a piece of wire with a couple of cardboard chips on the end could generate so much excitement!
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
The Winston flies through the air at it.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Winston turns it into pure mayhem, doesn’t he? You are much more dignified.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Évidement the Winston appreciates that he must sit back and let the Senior Cat have the first go at the flying insect.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin, 
You are both rather remarkable – you two understand what every pre-schooler has to learn. You take turns.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Bien sûr. But the Senior Cat goes first. Toujours.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Of course. That’s obviously the Natural Order of things.
Love, Carolyn

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The Tale

Hey Mom,
I’m an adult now!
Winston

Dear Winston,
I don’t think so, sweetie. To be considered adult you need to act like an adult.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I do! And I’m old enough! I’m two years old. I’m all grown up.
Winston

Dear Winston,
Well, you certainly have grown. Who knew that little ball of fluff would grow to be a fourteen-pound thug?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I’m a thug????? Sweet!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
I was kidding.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Gotcha.
Winston

Dear Winston,
You have grown into a gorgeous cat. I love your glossy coat. And that magnificent long tail. 
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
My tail is longer than Puffin’s!
Winston

Dear Winston,
Once at a family dinner party, our previous cat Mia came up to me and I stroked her and ran my hand along her tail, thinking “It would be so cool to have a tail.” And then I realized I’d said that aloud. My guests were folks who didn’t live with other species. No one said a word. Just stared politely at their dinner plates. It was probably one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever said at a dinner party.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
A tail is one of the best parts.
Winston

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Neighbors

Dear Mom,
The water dish in the garden is full of soup!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It does look like that. But it doesn’t look very appetizing. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Who did that??????? 
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Someone who wanted to dip their dinner in some water. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
The crows! They do that all the time!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
True, they do, but they use the birdbath. I had to scrub it out last week because the crows ripped open a mayonnaise packet there. What a greasy mess.
Love, Carolyn 

Dear Mom,
Maybe the crows decided to try my water bowl!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
My guess is our visitor was a raccoon.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Why did you empty it out? It looked like perfectly good food in there!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Who knows what it was originally? There were pieces of green onions. And small grains. It looked like the raccoon washed something like sushi and it fell apart in the water. That was one lucky raccoon if he found sushi.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I should stand guard in the garden, to keep out intruders! 
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That’s not necessary, sweetie. We like them, for the most part. All those wild neighbors make things interesting. Last month I saw a fox just up the hill from us. And I’m sure there are possums visiting in the night. There’s the Meadow Mice family. The squirrels. I think their nest is in our holly tree. And the Blue Jay couple. There’s always skunks – you had a memorable run-in with one. But surprisingly we don’t have bunnies in this area. Which is probably good news for the vegetable garden. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
You forgot to mention coyotes!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You are right! Periodically someone reports seeing a coyote. Which is why the cats are strictly Indoor Cats.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Cats also come to visit! Louis comes here a lot. So does the old calico cat. They are not Indoor Cats.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I do worry about Louis and the calico cat. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
And deer! We have deer neighbors. There’s the lady deer up the street. And the young one who used to hang with her has grown up and sprouted some furry antlers! I saw him by the creek this morning.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You shouldn’t bark at them. We just need to keep the gate closed so they can’t get in. They would love to eat our roses and vegetables. As for the rest, I like sharing our garden with wildlife. Except maybe the skunk. But I don’t want you trying to run that guy out of the yard.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
No!!!!! I only needed to make that terrible mistake once.
XOXO Poppy

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The Tuxedo

Cher Madame,
Il faut that we discuss last week’s wedding.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Seriously? I thought we had finally finished with that. I wish you wouldn’t tell the others that we were probably eaten by predators, just because we came home late from that wedding.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It does make them sit up and listen to me.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Well, knock it off. You had them all worked up. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Enfin, that is not what this petit cat wants to discuss. Je suis remiss. I meant to compliment Monsieur last week. He was nearly as elegant as this petit cat.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Is this all going to make sense at some point?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It was très gratifying that Monsieur copied this petit cat, to wear a tuxedo.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
The tuxedo. I should have known.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It is clear that this petit cat is naturally elegant, toujours in a tuxedo. An aristocrat. The Winston is too disorganized to be an aristocrat. Cross-eyed. And as you once said, he looks like he was left in the toaster too long. 
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Winston is a beautiful cat. A gorgeous glossy seal point Siamese. Definitely an aristocrat, sweetie.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Peut-être. And the Poppy. Sloppy skirts and greasy ears. You yourself have said her ears are hilarious.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Poppy is a lovely dog. Her skirts are elegant! And her ears are charming, straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. You are sounding very snarky today. Maybe you need a little treat?
Love, Carolyn 

Cher Madame,
A treat would be considered, oui.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
And I’ll pass along your compliment to Monsieur. About the tuxedo. I’m sure he’ll be pleased to hear that he was voted almost as elegant as the family cat.
Love, Carolyn

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Disinformation

Mom
Where did you GO?????????
Winston

Dear Winston,
Last night? We were at a wedding.
Love, Carolyn

Mom
You were very late. 
Winston

Dear Winston,
I know, sweetie. It was an evening reception and then a long drive home.
Love, Carolyn

Mom
Puffin said you probably were not coming home. That you were most likely eaten by predators.
Winston

Dear Winston,
Not that again! When are we ever going to put that rumor to rest? 
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
It’s a rumor?
Winston

Dear Winston,
Don’t listen to Puffin. When we go out, we don’t get eaten by predators. We don’t even get mauled by predators. There aren’t any predators where we go. Okay?
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
Puffin said he got that information from a trusted source.
Winston

Dear Winston,
He got that from Molly. She was a terrier who had a very dark view of life.
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
I’m glad there are no predators where you went. But we were very worried about the two of you. Why were you trying to strangle Dad before you left?
Winston

Dear Winston,
Dear god, where did that come from? I wasn’t trying to strangle Dad!
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
You held a black ribbon around his neck. And you kept tightening it.
Winston

Dear Winston,
That was a bow tie. I was tying his bowtie. It was a formal event. For heaven’s sake, were you all worrying about that the whole time we were gone?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Of course we were! It seemed like an alarming thing to do!
Winston

Dear Winston,
I’m sorry you all went through that. It explains why you came running when we got home. I don’t think I’ve ever lived with a cat who actually came running when I called him.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I’m really glad you weren’t eaten by predators and that you didn’t strangle Dad. And you looked very nice in your dress. Much better than sweatpants.
Winston

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The Soldier

Dear Poppy,
I think it is interesting that every night, when you see that it’s time to turn off the light and go to sleep, you get up and quietly leave the room.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Why are you bringing this up?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You clearly know it’s odd. You stop in the doorway and look over your shoulder to see if anyone is noticing.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Are you saying I’m odd?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Why don’t you sleep in the bedroom with everyone else? 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
How can I guard you if I’m there?????!!!!! I sleep in the living room so I can keep an eye on the front door. Because you never know.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
But last night you barked in the middle of the night for no apparent reason!
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
There was a reason. There was a deer walking by on the sidewalk.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
All that fuss, waking us up, and it was just a deer?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
JUST a deer??????? Deer are nothing but trouble!!!!! You know that. Last year the lady deer from up the street chased us for two whole blocks!!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That certainly was a horrifying experience.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Why did she hate us????!!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Because you were barking at her like you were deranged. And we were too close to her two babies. She had hidden them next to Jim’s front porch. What a harrowing chase that was! She was definitely planning to shred us with her sharp little hooves. I was so relieved when Jean came out to help scare her away.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
So, you see now? It’s important that I keep the deer away from our house.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I appreciate that you are keeping us safe, sweetie. It’s still funny, though, the way you sneak out of the bedroom. And you do a very odd thing. You step only on the hallway rug runner. To do that you make sharp ninety degree turns so that you don’t walk on the wood floor. Like a little soldier.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Am I doing it wrong???
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
No sweetie, I guess we’re lucky to have a soldier here to keep an eye on the local wildlife.
Love, Carolyn

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The Rejoinder

Cher Madame,
The Winston has no respect for this Senior Cat.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
What has he done now?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
He has no comprehension of the critical role that this Senior Cat has in the household. The Responsibilities. The precision and care of the Daily Schedule. To alert Madame of the Meal Times. The Game Times. The other Meal Times. To keep the household in line with the Clock. To keep the Order.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Is this about what Winston wrote to me last week? Describing your daily Plan? I have to say, I thought it was hilarious. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
That weasel made this dignified household administrator sound unimportant. And Madame thinks it is hilarious?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I’m sorry, I actually agree with you sweetie, he was over simplifying when he described your daily plan as Demand Breakfast. Eat. Nap. Eat. Nap. Eat. Nap. Demand Dinner. Eat. Nap. Announce Game Time. Play game. Eat. Nap. Eat. Nap. Eat. Nap. Then wake us for Breakfast.  It was simplifying, but it was funny.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
C’est impertinent. This Senior Cat does much much more.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Fair enough. He left out how how competently you keep us all on track. I love that you alert me when it is time for the Evening Games. If you didn’t, I’d probably get lost in what I’m reading and totally miss it. And Winston makes no mention at all of your athletic prowess playing the Game, as you slay your prey over and over again.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Some day the Winston will be a Senior Cat, and he will realize the weight on his shoulders, the weight of the role of Senior Cat in the household.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Let’s not lay it on too thick, sweetie. But here, I’ve re-written your Plan for you. I think you’ll like this better than what he wrote:  Eat breakfast. Suggest to Madame the benefit of a petit post-breakfast treat. Nap in the dining room window. Eat a bit more. Nap again. Observe the finches in the feeder. Move to a new nap location for the afternoon. Finish the last of the breakfast. Nap some more. Observe the chickadees outside the bedroom window. Politely lobby for dinner. Eat a bit of dinner. Nap in Poppy’s bed. Alert everyone that it’s almost Evening Game Time. Slay the Game Prey over and over. Eat a bit more dinner. Curl up on Madame’s lap while she reads. Alternate sleeping and snacking all night long. Wake Monsieur for breakfast. Start all over again. How’s that for a better description of your Daily Plan?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
You did not include that I remind Madame to make the bed every morning.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Oh please, you don’t remind me. You just demand that it be made up right away so you can curl up on the cover. And it doesn’t help that you sit in the middle of the bed, totally in my way, making it difficult. I should have included Interfere with the making of the bed in your Plan.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Toujours le sarcasm.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

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