Archive for January, 2013

The First Month

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar/Jonesy Chronicles

Mr.  Vinégar
Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogSo that Jonesy wouldn’t be lonely I barricaded one half of the kitchen, left him some balls to play with and made recordings of my voice singing… “I Tawt I taw a puddy tat,” so that he wouldn’t be lonely. He yawned. 

 

 

By chance he found an old cardboard box I had forgotten to throw out and he played in it for hours.  He also amused himself playing with his tail and other parts of his body.

Jonesy Taming his Tail

Click on the play button to see Jonesy attacking his tail.

 

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinegar

When Jonesy managed to climb over the barricade I had no choice but to let him roam the whole apartment.  He hopped up and down the stairs to the loft, searched every nook and cranny, explored every drawer and cupboard, and sharpened his claws on my sofa.  Fearing he would ruin the sofa completely, I immediately bought him a scratching post.

Jonesy from Mr. Vinegar

He’s lost his marbles!

According to the manual, as soon as I came home at night I was to go over to the post, scratch it and exclaim with great enthusiasm, That feels so good!  Oh my goodness, does that feel good!  Ooooo!

I hoped that this would encourage Jonesy to do the same.  I did this for several days, feeling incredibly foolish as I did so.  I finally gave it up after a couple walking beneath my window yelled out something about getting a room.

Fortunately, Jonesy had understood what I was trying to teach him and attacked the scratching post as if it was his enemy.  Now I left for work confident that my sofa would not be ruined.  The moment I returned home Jonesy clambered all over me purring happily.  After I fed him, he’d race backwards and forwards, leap in the air, climb the curtains, until a short time later, exhausted, he would lie down wherever he was and quickly sink into the arms of Morpheus.  As often as not I would wake in the morning to find that he had crawled onto my bed and had fallen asleep on my chest.  I couldn’t believe how much pleasure this furry ball of innocence gave me. 

Oh, Jonesy just woke up and has something to say…..

JONESY

Jonesy's Thinking. Mr. Vinégar Blog. Peter ElblingI was surrounded by brothers and sisters when I was born and then by lots of cats in the shelter, so of course I was lonely all by myself in the apartment!  And having Mr.  V’s voice coming out of nowhere at odd moments scared the daylights out of me especially when he began to sing.  If it wasn’t for that voice I might still be behind the barricade.

Jonesy from Mr. VinegarAs soon as I climbed over Mr. V taught me how to use the scratching post.  When I did he gave me a treat.  I hoped this would be different than the name thing but sure enough as soon as I got into the habit of using it he stopped giving me treats.  I thought maybe if I pooped on the carpet he would give me treats to go in the litter box but it didn’t work that way.  The balls he gave me were all right but the box was better.  I liked hiding in it and then jumping out as he walked past and digging my claws into the fleshy part of his thighs.  But best of all was falling asleep on his chest.  His stomach was nicer because it was softer but it made so many noises during the night that it woke me up. 

 

 

The Name

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar/Jonesy Chronicles

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar Blog

Mr. Vinégar's Catastrophe. Jonesy gets his name.

 

 

 

A week after I brought the kitten home I had still not named it.

 

Marmalade, Ginger, Boots were much too ordinary, Ivan was too stern and Sparky too psychotic.   I was at a loss and so asked my co-workers for suggestions. 

 

Why don’t you name it Princess? Said Mr. Chang.

Mr. Chang

Ms. Graben

Because it’s a boy, I replied. But that would be different, he said. I’m not going to call it, Princess.

 

 

What about Kahlua, Ms. Graben, chimed in.  That’s a nice name. Or Cassis?  Or Crème de Cacao! she shrieked.

 

 

Since I was not interested in exploring the rest of Ms. Graben’s liquor cabinet I moved on to Ms. Gupta.

Ms. GuptaGanesh is a great Indian name, she said. He’s the Lord of success and Remover of obstacles. But isn’t Ganesh an elephant? I ventured mildly.  Oh dear, Ms. Gupta sighed.  You know so little about Indian culture.  I held my tongue but the irony is that Ms. Gupta is not Indian!  Her real name is Brenda and she’s from the North of England.  Five years ago she couldn’t have located India on a map of India but she married an Indian by the name of Prayan and since then curry has run in her veins.  Prayan wears pants and shirts, eats hot dogs and watches football.  Ms. Gupta insists on wearing saris, burning sickly sweet incense and playing endless hours of sitar music until I think my ears will bleed.

Ms. SnicketyBefore I could change the subject Ms. Snickety, Mr. Karl’s secretary, offered no names but advised that whenever I called it I should reward it with a treat.  That way it’ll always come when it’s called.  It’s Pavlovian.

Mr. Karl

Just then Mr. Karl exited the restroom and in a perfect Pavlovian response Ms. Snickety vigorously sprayed the office with an odor remover.  Actually it was Mr. Karl who came to the rescue.  Name it, Jonesy and be done with it, he growled.

Jonesy was the nickname of a former employee we had all admired who had since taken her designing skills overseas.

Jonesy from work I thought it an excellent idea since the name suited either gender. I tried it out later that evening and to my delight, Jonesy responded.

Over the next week or two whenever I called Jonesy by name I gave him a treat.   By the end of that time he came whether I gave him a treat or not. Mr. Pavlov would have been proud.

 

Now I’ll give Jonesy his two whiskers…

JONESY

Jonesy's Thinking. Mr. Vinégar Blog. Peter Elbling.What he doesn’t tell you is that for the first week he called me Lady.  That’s right, Lady!  I didn’t know any better and I was beginning to get used to it when a neighbor came by to look at me.  She turned me upside down and pointed to a scar down there and started laughing.  From then on my master called me Jonesy.  Talk about confused.  I’m probably scarred for life.  But after a while I got used to Jonesy.

Whenever he had called me Lady he gave me a treat, but now that he was calling me Jonesy he gave me two treats.  I hoped he might change my name again and give me three treats but then he stopped giving me treats altogether!  And I still came whenever he called me.  Even now after all this time, I still do it!  I can be fast asleep in one of my other homes – I’ll get to that later – and all of a sudden I hear Jonezee! Jonezee!  piercing my dreams.  Jonesy sleepingIt doesn’t matter how comfortable I am, something makes me drag myself up and go home.  It’s not only infuriating, it’s embarrassing!  Other cats, Prince especially, always make fun of me when it happens.  Jonsey, your master’s calling.  Off you go like a good little boy.

But two can play at that game.  Now I often wait until the middle of the night and then I howl outside the door and I don’t stop until Mr. V opens it.  Oh yes, when I figured I’d have to give him a name, a lot of unflattering ones came to mind but in the end I settled on something simple and easy to remember – Mr. V.

 

Beginnings

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar/Jonesy Chronicles

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogHello, my name is Mr. Vinégar and I am employed at Globes and Maps Inc., Once one of the most renowned maps and globe makers in the world.  It has been going through a difficult period because of the internet and other new-fangled technological nonsense.  Mr. Vinegar The magnificent Mt. Everest hanger

As the idea man it has been my job to reverse this tsunami.  Some of my efforts, such as creating a map of Brazil on coffee cups, have been successful, others such as printing maps of Mount Everest on coat hangers have not.

For some time I searched for a companion to ease me through these difficult periods. One morning, just over two years ago as I was leaving for work I saw a large tabby cat outside my screen door. (I later discovered that his name was Prince).  As Mr. Vinégar's Catastrophe Prince: Checking things outsoon as I opened the door he strolled inside and began sniffing in the corners, looking into the cabinets as if he was making a report for the landlord. Then he sat on the steps leading to the loft and allowed me to scratch his neck. Seemingly satisfied, he walked out into the sunshine and disappeared.

Prince’s behavior confirmed that I should get a cat. They cleaned themselves, were mostly quiet, I hate noisy anythings, ate relatively little and could entertain themselves for hours with a paper bag.  Mr. Vinegar Take me! Take me!

So, a few days later I went to a nearby city shelter. The noise was unbelievable. Yapping, barking dogs, shrieking parrots, a neighing pony and even a grunting pig all fought for my attention. The pimply-faced female volunteer led me into the cat section, two small rooms filled with numerous wire cages. The second I set foot in the room every cat, no matter its size, age or color, rushed to the front of its cage and pressing its nose against the wire mesh mewed and howled in a shameless pleading manner.

It was so nauseating that I was about to leave when I noticed a kitten, orange in color with white paws and ears that were better suited to a bat, sitting quietly in the middle of its cage. It seemed shell-shocked, which was not surprising considering the surroundings. I bent down and spoke to it. It barely moved. I poked my finger through a hole in the wire. The kitten stuck out a pink tongue and licked it. I immediately asked the volunteer, Has it had its shots? Oh, yes, she replied. It’s been neutered, too. Well, I said, no wonder it’s catatonic. The volunteer assured me the operation had taken place over a week ago and that the kitten had long since recovered. May I hold him? I asked.Mr. Vinegar I looked in Jonesy's eyes

The volunteer took the kitten out of its cage and put it in my hands. I held it up to the light to look in its eyes – the eyes can tell you whether it would pee in the wrong places – but they seemed lacking in any hidden agenda. Then I noticed it was purring. He likes you, said the volunteer. I cradled the kitten against my chest and the purring got louder. He’s a sweet little fellow. He won’t get much bigger, will he? Not much, the volunteer assured me. And he’ll be easy to control? Oh, yes, said the worker. Very well, I said. I’ll take him. It was only when I got home that I remembered Prince’s visit. I must have passed the inspection.

Now I’ll give Jonesy a turn…

JONESY

Jonesy's Thinking. Mr. Vinégar Blog. Peter Elbling.“He who feeds me daily,” or “Mr. V” as I have come to call him, has asked me to contribute to the blog he is writing. At first I thought a blog was something I threw up last week and even after he explained what it was I wasn’t so sure. Cats have very short memories – otherwise how could we gobble down cans of “REAL SALMON and CRABMEAT IN SAUCE” day after day after day and still think it’s delicious. But after sleeping on it I decided I had better go ahead otherwise the facts would get so twisted I wouldn’t  recognize myself. So here goes.

I vaguely remember being born in a cardboard box under a bed. I think there were five of us but as I was blind for the first couple of weeks there could have been six.  Or ten.  Who knows?  Who cares?  All I know is that whenever it was my turn to get some milk my mom would say, too late, and go off leaving me with my mouth open and my stomach empty.  One day, the box was put in a car and we were driven away. The car stopped, the box was put by the side of the road and the car disappeared. People came by and oogled us and then, just like that, one of us was gone. And then another. Soon I was the only one left. I was there for hours. It could have been days. I was so hungry I didn’t even have the strength to whine and I had become good at whining. Then someone took me to a shelter. Jonesy. Mr. Vinégar blog. I could get used to this

That place was crazy. People don’t know that a cat’s hearing is TEN TIMES more sensitive than theirs and since I have big ears I was in agony. I was put in a special place – we’ll talk about that later – and then I was returned to my cage. I was surrounded by cages full of other cats and kittens. There was fresh food every day and my litter box was kept clean. There was nothing else to do but groom, eat, groom, sleep, groom, poop, and then groom some more. I thought, I could get used to this.

Then the door opened and one of the workers came in with someone trailing behind them. All the cats and kittens immediately ran to the front of their cages and yelled, TAKE ME! TAKE ME! TAKE ME! I didn’t know if I was supposed to do that or not so I just sat there. All of a sudden I saw a pair of eyes staring at me. It Mr. Vinégar Do Something!was not one the workers but an old man with not much hair, wrinkled lines on his face and a nose like one of those screechy birds I saw when I came in. He stuck his finger though a hole in the wire and wiggled it about. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do so I didn’t do anything. The other cats screamed, DON’T JUST SIT THERE. DO SOMETHING!  The only thing I could think to do was to lick his finger. So I did. It tasted yucky. The man pulled his finger out. The cats groaned, OH NO! YOU’VE Jonesy. Mr. Vinégar blog. I could REALLY get used to thisBLOWN IT! Blown what? I thought. I got so flustered that I was about to shout, TAKE ME! TAKE ME! when the worker unlocked the cage. I was so surprised I peed myself. She lifted me out and put me in the man’s hands.  The other cats all shouted, PURR! PURR! FOR GOD’S SAKE, PURR! So I did. I PURRRRRED. The man held me up to his face and I cranked the purring up a notch. Then he cradled me against his chest. I was surprised because it was warmer than I expected. The man said something to the worker and she closed the cage – without me in it. YOU’RE IN! The other kittens shouted. I licked the hand again and the man tickled my neck! I thought, I could get used to this, too. Then the man followed the worker out the room. YOU LUCKY SON-OF-A-GUN! The cats shouted as my new master carried me out of there.