Well, all I can say is that this past weekend I was exposed to a new level of skullduggery that left me gasping with astonishment. This involved some very tricky old ladies, but – before we go there – let me first set the scene...
Cats have been much on my mind recently. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that I've been hearing more and more cat-related sayings popping up in people's conversations over the course of the past few weeks. For example, there's the old-fashioned term that was popular in the 1920s – "the cat's whiskers" – meaning "the height of perfection" or "first-rate" (similar, in concept, I guess to "the cat's meow" and "the cat's pajamas"). And then there's "curiosity killed the cat" and "a cat has nine lives" and … I'll tell you what, how about you help out here by posting your suggestions, because I have other fish to fry…
I also recently read a book called 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. Don’t worry, they aren’t talking about using real cats – this is just a book of amusing cartoon drawings, some of which are laugh-out-loud funny. One that caught my eye was a stuffed cat being used as a shooting stick (i.e., one-legged portable stool).
I don't know why, but I thought "It would be fun to make one of those."
Now obviously I wouldn’t do this with a real cat (dead or alive), because (a) that would be disrespectful and (b) my wife wouldn’t let me… but a "photo-realistic" soft-fluffy-toy-type cat is a different kettle of fish and a horse of a different color (if you see what I mean).
Also, for a long time I've been thinking about the way in which – following the tragic passing of his cat due to a fatal encounter with a car – Dutch Artist Bart Jansen turned the remains of his feline friend into a remote-controlled quad-rotor helicopter (Click Here
for more details and to see a video).
I've been thinking that something like this would look rather cool hanging from the ceiling in my office. I'm visualizing the cat holding four propellers (mounting this under the air conditioner vent would cause them to spin) with a mouse sitting astride a saddle mounted on the cat's neck. The mouse would be wearing a little leather jacket and flying goggles and a white silk scarf (there may or may not be a little riding whip involved – I don’t know yet).
I explained all of this to my wife's cat, Rocket, and asked if he would care to volunteer, but he gave me the distinct impression that he was not amused, which leads us back to the concept of a "photo-realistic" soft-fluffy-toy-type cat.
All of this this explains why I found myself in a local fabric shop this past Saturday, because I'd been told that this was the place to go to find sewing patterns for this sort of thing (I've had no luck searching the Internet).
So I walked into the store and boldly asked the assistants "Do you have a sewing pattern for a cat."
I must admit that I'd sort of expected them to say something like "Of course young sir, the cat patterns are all on that shelf over there…"
It's not that easy. It turns out that there's a special area in the store with a table and a bunch of huge (telephone directory-sized) catalogs showing pictures of finished "things." You have to go through these catalogs to find the "thing" you are looking for, and then go into these humongous filing cabinets to locate the corresponding pattern. It's not un-akin to fighting your way through a library catalogue system, except that the arcane numbering system they use in fabric stores makes even less sense.
At the table were a couple of old ladies who were happily rooting through the catalogs. They were chatting to each other and one mentioned that she would probably be coming back to the store three or four times that day because of "the limit of 10 patterns per customer."
WHAT? They limit how many sewing patterns you can buy? Is this a federal regulation? Is "Big Brother" really watching us? Is it a case of government gone mad?
I must admit that I was somewhat confused, so I asked what she was waffling on about, and she explained that there was a sale on that day for the patterns from two of the catalogs. These patterns were normally ~$15 each, but – for this weekend only – they were 10 for $10 from one of the catalogs and 3 for $5 from the other catalog. The bottom line is that each customer could only purchase a maximum of 10 of the "on-sale" patterns in a single visit.
One of the ladies further explained that the patterns from different catalogs were on sale each week, so if I found the pattern I was looking for in one of the non-sale catalogs, I should wait for that sale to come around. But then the other lady pointed out that there was always a rush the first thing in the morning for the patterns from the catalogs that had just gone on sale, so there was a good chance that the pattern I was looking for might be sold out by the time I got there.
And then, in hushed tones, the first lady introduced me to one of the inner secrets of the sewing circle. She explained that if there were patterns she wanted that would not be on sale for a week or so, she would remove them from their usual locations and ferret them away at the back of the shelf for the "XYZ "catalog because, as she said, "no one ever buys the patterns from that catalog so no one ever looks in that cabinet."
Well, I had no idea that things were so hard-fought on the sewing pattern front. It's certainly opened my eyes to a new world of intrigue and daring do. (And no, I'm not going to tell you the name of the "XYZ" catalog – this knowledge is far too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands.)
Having said all this, I STILL didn’t find a suitable pattern. Now, had I wished to make a dog, I would have been tap-dancing my way out of the store, because there were pages and pages of very realistic dog patterns. On the feline side of things, however, all I could find were cartoonish "Beanie Baby" type offerings, which won't do at all.
Thus it was that, with a little tear rolling down my cheek, I left the fabric store and headed over to Best Buy
to cheer myself up by purchasing some speech recognition software
, but that's a tale for another time…
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