The Catt Box
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Primitive Cat Collector Lady!
At the end of Worm Ranch Road, in the small town of Sugartit, South Carolina, lives a little old lady by the name of Estie Lewis.
She's lived alone for about as long as anyone can remember. They say she's crazy...and Estie Lewis couldn't be happier about that.
Sometimes it's good to be the crazy one.
And I can't really blame her, not really.
I know why she's so grouchy. I really understand it completely....the world made her that way.
You can only imagine what it must have been like to take it, and take it, and take it....year after year.
But then, maybe you understand it completely, too.
Estie Lewis spent so much of her life being nice to people, remembering her manners and letting someone else have the best seat in the house, the best looking banana in the fruit bowl, letting other people bully her out of the shopping aisle, letting people ruin her night out at the movies because they can't shut their mouth.
Or back when she used to go to the rock concerts and rude people screamed right into her ears....you know, like the drunk woman who stood right behind her, screeching at the top of her smoke-filled lungs.
There wasn't even a seat behind Estie Lewis, that time.......but 'screaming drunk woman' had sneaked down from the nose-bleed section of the stadium and tried to get a better view. This pretty much ruined the evening for Estie Lewis, who paid REAL good money for her own seat.
Don't even get her started.....
Of course, on Estie Lewis' way out of the concert, being the lady that she was, she waved at 'screaming drunk woman'.........
She just didn't use all of her fingers to do so.
Now, add to that a couple good years of menopause and some wiry hormones and all that kindness and patience stuff goes right out the window.
But for so many years she took a back seat in life, always putting other people's feelings ahead of her own....and no one appreciated it.
After many years of dealing with that, she got to where she just didn't care anymore.
And that's right where I'm headed....I just about don't care anymore.....
But that's another doll, and another story.
During the years when Estie Lewis was out in public more often, she began to treat people differently. When she went to a store, she didn't care about letting others have their way all the time...she would take her aisle in the store and move for no one.
She would look 'em right in the eye, too.
She would tell people in the restaurants to keep their kids quiet when she was trying to enjoy her dinner. And she always kept a small bag of hard pretzels in her purse so she could pelt the loud-mouths when she was watching a movie in a theatre.
Estie Lewis had grown tired of being diplomatic....it doesn't pay to be diplomatic all the time. It started to became fun to be 'the crazy one'...people moved out of her way...they stepped aside.
They knew, intuitively, to give up the aisle in the store.
As Estie Lewis grew older she became that old woman with twenty cats...and she also had lots of plants everywhere. And the plants were put into old milk cartons and the flat-bed section of old toy pick-up trucks.
If there was something that could hold a few rocks for drainage and some soil, it became a planter.
She let her house go unpainted and her front yard began to grow up and out of shape. The same curtains hung in her windows for thirty years...tattered, torn, and stained.....
And at different times of the day, you could see the curtains move as Estie Lewis watched over her property.
Through the passing years, school children began to fear her and talk of the time that she was said to have killed someone and buried them in the flower bed.
Oh, and the stories that were told of the crazy things she'd do and say...like on full moon nights when she could be heard playing "I've Written A Letter To Daddy" on her huge Hammond B-3 organ, naked, and laughing and talking to no one.
(did you get a good mental image of that?)
It's also said that she had a rifle and that she'd kill anyone who came to her house.
The very act of stepping onto her front porch had become the initiation of every club and coming-of-age ritual in town.
Estie Lewis has lost all her manners. These days, she will yell out of her windows at people, and she refuses to fill out census forms. And she won't move her old car, not even for the meter man.
She has struck more fear in the hearts of the townsfolk and been the fodder of more gossip than Boo Radley on any given summer.
She wants everyone to think she's a millionaire....that way they'll spend their evenings wondering where she 'hid the money'.
Some will say it's in her dusty wing-back chair that sits next to her pot-belly stove in the living room.
Some will say it's in the wall in her bedroom....
....yet others will think that it's buried right next to the dead body in the flower bed.
They will all tell the tale of how she probably obtained all that money. They will assume it came from the insurance company when her husband died, which will bring them to the conclusion that she must have killed him.
Then, on some foggy night in a near-by cemetery, a conversation between the local teenagers will prompt one of them to stand, as though finally solving the mystery, and shout out that it is her husband who is buried in the flower bed!
But one of the best times of the year for Estie Lewis is on Halloween night.
Children come to her front porch at midnight...on Halloween night...on a dare...just to see....
As she notices the children creeping up on her house, she'll allow herself to be 'accidentally' seen in the candle-lit window.
She'll take her wrinkled hand, spit on the palm of it, and smooth back that dry, perm-damaged white hair till she has that planet-of-the-apes look....complete with a deep widow's peak.
Then she'll slip those ill-fitting dentures into place with the teeth that are so small that when she smiles she looks like she has two cobs of Shoe-Peg corn in her mouth.
Then she'll put on that red "Whatever-Happened-To-Baby-Jane" lipstick...and it'll be appropriately smeared and all over those little 'corn teeth'.
And then she'll bolt through her front door and scare the crap out of 'em by shooting some buck-shot from her rifle, which REALLY gives 'em something to talk about for the rest of the year.
But say what you will of poor old Estie Lewis, there's a place in her heart that never grew cold. She has a soft-spot for cats. Cats are the only things she likes in this world, besides a good banana and mayonnaise sandwich.
Cats have never hurt her, they don't make fun of her, and they are independent enough to not annoy and pester her to death.
I don't think anyone has ever been able to count all the cats she has at her house. But one thing is known for sure, she takes very good care of them.
However, Estie Lewis does have a special problem......she steals cats.
She's known as a Cat Collector.
It's been said to happen to people who grow tired of tolerating people....they would rather have the company of animals, or tons of cats.
For as long as anyone can remember, at around 9:45 at night, every night, Miss Estie Lewis always empties her wooden pail of 'kitty pencils'. This is also how she collects her kitties.
I've seen her do it.
It begins the same way every evening. Estie Lewis keeps her cats distracted by luring them with kitty treats. Like a high-pitch siren alarm, she'll start calling them to her.
"Treat, treat, treat, treat, treeeeeeeeat!"
And cats will come from everywhere in the house. They'll gather like chickens in her living room as she tosses cat treats onto the carpet. While they're busy eating, she doesn't have to worry about them trying to slip out of the house when she opens the door.
Estie Lewis will reach for her chenille peacock bathrobe. She's had it for many years. She used to have a different colored chenille peacock bathrobe, but during an initiation ritual one night, some teenagers stole it off of her clothesline. So she made a new bathrobe from an old chenille peacock bedspread....she even hand-stitched pockets on the front of the bathrobe.
She'll wear her bathrobe over her vintage fabric house-dress, topped with the cutwork doily collar.
Her house dress is made from authentic old fabric that's from the 1950's.
She wears nothing else, except for a pair of pantaloons with the legs tied down with twine.
She gave up wearing nice dresses and slacks years ago.
Then she'll put her old black straw hat on her fuzzy white hair. It's got old flowers on the front and she used to wear it to church on Sundays.
She had to stop going to church when the preacher accused her of stealing his cat.
She denied it.
Of course, we all know she did it.....I mean, when she's angry about something, there's only one cat that will come running to her when she says the name "Jesus!"
Estie Lewis is a tall lady, standing nearly 28 inches tall. And her chenille bathrobe is very large. She adjusts her hat and pauses in the mirror to try to smooth down her hair.
She finds herself momentarily sad as she sees the image staring back at her.
Where did her youth go?
Her white wool hair speaks nothing of the tresses she used to have as a young girl. Her white button eyes are hidden beneath her drooping eyelids. And her big nose and chin seem even bigger, especially now that her face has caved in from having all her teeth pulled. She has big bushy eyebrows and her face is leathered and weathered from years spent in the sun in her garden.
But the red lipstick she wears on her red potpourri flower mouth keeps her lips looking more youthful.
She reaches down and lovingly touches the cat button she got from her wonderful friend of many years ago. She smiles.
She has several friends who are also Cat Collector ladies, they cover the area in all kinds of states in the nation.
I really think there's a secret society of Cat Collectors scattered all around the world.
Estie Lewis then picks up the wooden bucket of 'kitty pencils' and goes outside. After she empties the bucket, she takes her nightly walk through the town of Sugartit, South Carolina.
If you follow her closely enough, you can see her in action. She will see a helpless kitty and approach it. The cats are never afraid of her.
And then you see how she operates.....
Of course, if you are standing directly behind her, you can see her glorious chenille peacock on the back of her bathrobe.
But if you are standing in front of her, you see everything inside of her coat.
She takes her trembling hands and opens her old bathrobe, revealing all the things a cat would love to have.
First we see a small twig basket filled with kitty-lures. There's some yarn balls inside. Also, there are little kitten buttons for when the cats want something to bat around. There's also a little mouse button.
And look, she's even got a small wooden bowl with milk in the basket, to feed the hungry kittens.
Of course, Estie Lewis knows that all cats are lactose intolerant, but she only gives them small drops of the milk in order to whet their appetite.
And hanging from the twig basket are four small wooden spools for kittens to play with.
If the street lights shine down on her in the right way, you can see more cat-lures on the inside of her coat......there's a small bag of catnip on one side of her bathrobe....and on the other side, you see a small bag of cat treats.
And it seems that the longer Estie Lewis walks, the bigger her bathrobe gets. And little wonder......it's full of cats!
There are three rabbit fur covered kitties. One on each side of her coat, and one on her house-dress.
And on the right side of her coat, you see a small cloth kitty.
And bless her heart......hanging on her house-dress is a little wooden kitty. He's got arthritis and feels very stiff.
She just couldn't leave him to fend for himself.
Bless his little heart.
When Estie Lewis fills her coat with cats, she heads back home. Back to her house of cats, back into her world.
She'll keep her new cats separate from her old cats until she has had them checked over by the vet and given a Feline Leukemia test. They'll also be properly wormed and vaccinated, spayed and neutered.
All ear mites will be taken care of and they'll be fed a proper diet of dry food so they can keep the tartar and plaque from their teeth, which will help to fight Gingivitis and possibly add at least five healthy years to their little life-span.
It's good to be a crazy, responsible Cat Collector, especially when you already have a chenille peacock bathrobe (thank you Chris M.).
...."I've Written A Letter To Daddy......his address is heaven above.....I've written 'dear daddy, we miss you, and wish you were with us to love'.....hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmmmmmm".......
Copyright © June 8, 2003 and May 30, 2004 Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander
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My dolls are not for everyone, they are my art. If you are offended, I suggest you hit the back button. It will not do you any good to write me 'hate mail'.
In spite of the dolls I create and the stories I write, I do not use recreational drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.