I don’t actually speak cat, but the dialogue in this scene was pretty unmistakable.

The setting: the front porch, on a day of sun after many days of rain.

The antagonist: me, spotting the cats and saying, “Wow, you guys look so pretty, I’m going to have to take a picture and send it to your mom.”

Our protagonists: Gina, the orange cat, terrorizer of Zelda and power-hungry battler for kitchen authority, and Vivi, the tortoiseshell cat, queen of the entire property and ruler of all she surveys.

Gina: The porch is cozy today.
Vivi: Indeed. Ah, an admirer. Someone to appreciate my beauty. How pleasant.
Gina: ACK! It’s looking at me!!!
Gina: The horror!
Vivi: OMG. It’s admiring our beauty, you coward. I can’t even…
Vivi: You are an embarrassment to cats everywhere.
Gina: I’m so ashamed.

It’s fun watching the animal dynamics in a house/environment of many creatures. There are two dogs, two indoor cats (these two), two permanent outdoor cats, and a revolving collection of visitors. Plus lots of chickens. They’ve all been trying to figure out Zelda’s place, as has Zelda herself, but Honored Guest is difficult to translate into dog/cat. So far, Zelda seems to have decided she’d rather not — whenever I bring her into the house, she hovers by the door, hoping to convince me to leave quickly, and/or hides in the bathroom.

But the dogs seem to be slowly deciding that Zelda is a friend, so I hope that helps. Last night there was some nose-touching with tail-wagging when Z came into the house. And the cats run the range from Gina, who is pretty clearly jealous and determined not to let any of her privileges be usurped; Vivi, who has no need to play power games with any species so beneath her; Moe, who runs if we come anywhere near; and Tank/Zen Kitty, who darts away if startled and glares if not startled. We give all of them a pretty wide berth, but especially Tank who outweighs Z and would absolutely win any confrontation. Not that there would be a confrontation. Z could star in one of the internet videos of dogs incapable of taking back her bed from a cat if the cats got anywhere near her bed, because she wants absolutely nothing to do with them. That’s Gina’s fault, I’m pretty sure. Gina is sneaky about trying to swipe at Z, but Z doesn’t have any problem reading cat body language. She knows what Gina thinks of her.

I’m fairly sure that I’ve now hit the longest I’ve stayed in one place in the van, during my two-plus years of living in it. Not the longest I’ve stayed in a given place, which is probably my brother’s house or Sanford, both with multiple repeat visits. And even Oscar Scherer State Park in Sarasota might still have more total days. But my longest time of staying still without some campground escape or move to another vacation.

I am loving it, actually. I’ve thought before that when not moving, the disadvantages of living in a van so outweigh the advantages that it’s simply not worth it. Without the travel, it’s just life in a metal box. But in Arcata, it’s life in a metal box with yoga down the street (twice last week), a farmer’s market on Saturdays, a nearby beach, meditation classes, gardening and chickens, a new writer friend to meet for coffee, used bookstores, trips to CostCo, a grocery store in easy walking distance with really good gluten-free bread… And this week some sunshine, too!

So no Oregon adventures yet, but as I said to Suzanne, why drive two hours to go to a campground by the beach when we could drive ten minutes to the beach, then come home and cook something scrumptious in the kitchen? Plus, we can then use the money that we would have spent on a campground to rent kayaks and/or take kayaking lessons. Or maybe sailing lessons. Or maybe both! There’s a place 15 minutes away that rents equipment and offers lessons so instead of driving to Oregon this weekend, we’re going to go investigate. They’re doing an all-day river adventure at the end of the month, which I’d like to sign up for, if I can bring myself to leave Z for that long.

Meanwhile, S is at work, and I should be working on Fen, not considering my future fun adventures. Back to the real words!