April 25, 2021: Spring Hill Cemetery Park, Charleston, West Virginia. Elizabeth was walking her collie, Sally, when Sally came to an abrupt halt. A loud meow was echoing from the woodpile at the bottom of the hill. People organized and dogs were passed around and a friend scrambled over the bank where a small black and white kitten emerged, yowled loudly, and was carried up the hill and passed to Elizabeth. Because of an edict from our attorney, the kitten was only supposed to be staying until the animal shelter reopened on Tuesday, but by then it was too late. The kitten, knowing a good deal when she saw one, got to work quickly. With an evident flair for literature, she quickly turned into an essential Blackwater Press team member and chose her first manuscript (Ma Chere Maman…), she demonstrated total disdain for dogs Sally and Lucy, and made her nest in any and all available laps. This was before she had demonstrated her prowess as a killer.
For Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, we’re delighted that our very own Flora MacDonald Ford agreed to sit down and answer some of our questions, based on the set used by many authors for character development that originated in 1890 with Marcel Proust.
- What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I am perfectly happy.
- What is your greatest fear?
Being homeless again. Being hungry again.
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Nothing. I’m perfect.
- What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Weakness of character and lack of purpose.
- Which living person do you most admire?
- What is your greatest extravagance?
Liberty print collars from Made by Cleo. I have my eye on a chicken-shaped cat bed, but I’d probably just look at it and never get in it…
- What is your current state of mind?
Pensive. There are birds outside the kitchen window. But I can’t get them. Otherwise content.
- What is hardest about your life?
What I think most people don’t understand is the constant pressure. It’s just one thing after another, and the constant demands. It’s all very complicated, and no one really knows what it’s like.
- What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
- On what occasion do you lie?
- Describe your role at Blackwater Press.
As official kitten, I like to think I play a key part in the publication process as well as the day-to-day running of things.
- What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Nothing: I’m beautiful.
- Describe your average day.
I like to be up early: between 4 and 5 most mornings, and I get my breakfast immediately. After that I’m shut out of the bedroom because not everyone appreciates the joys of the morning like I do. I like to run around and make noise, sit in the kitchen sink and watch birds, guard my litter box, and sometimes I’ll get fish on a stick and drag him around for company. Around 7 or so I’ll start howling at the bedroom door. When it finally opens, I run around and show my tummy. Then there’s more bird watching until it’s finally time for morning tea and laptime. Then I like to help make the bed. I think it’s an important part of the daily routine. Then depending, I either nap, play, help with work, or look out windows until lunch. After a hectic morning, I sleep most of the afternoon. Locations vary. Around 5 I like to wake up and run around, maybe play with gnome on a stick, have a drink, and then have my dinner. Then it’s back to sleep until about 8, then I move and sleep on the back of the couch or have more laptime until bedtime. I like to play before bedtime, and sometimes get a snack. Most days follow this schedule with some variations depending on location and schedule.
- Which living person do you most despise?
He knows who he is.
- What is the quality you most like in a man?
Long legs make the best lap.
- What is the quality you most like in a woman?
- Charles Edward Stuart’s famous escape across the Highlands following his army’s crushing and ignominious defeat a Culloden: discuss.
Thanks for this question. I must say that dressing a very tall man who needed a shave and didn’t speak the local language as a woman to smuggle him out of the country isn’t the best idea I’ve ever heard, but apparently it worked. And passing him off as Irish. What’s that say about mid-eighteenth-century perceptions of Irish women? They were big, ungainly, and homely?
- Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
- What or who is the greatest love of your life?
- When and where were you happiest?
I’m happy when I’m baking at the heat duct behind the kitchen door at home, teasing Sally, and having my tummy rubbed. Or when Mommy is holding me. I like to be held.
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Nothing. I’m perfect.
- How do you pick manuscripts?
It’s all down to how the paper feels on my butt. That instantly tells me the quality of the work.
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I’m only three but those who keep count say I’ve killed 26 varmints of various descriptions.
- What is your most treasured possession?
My Fish on a Stick.
- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Going to the veterinarian.
- What is your favorite occupation?
Snuggling. Playing. Killing. Teasing Sally. Looking out the windows. Climbing my cat tree.
- What is your most marked characteristic?
I have the strength of my convictions.
- Who are your favorite writers?
Elizabeth Auld, Zoe Strachan, William Burleson, John Fulton, Melanie Bianchi, Robert Ford.
- Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Flora MacDonald (duh?)
- Would you kill the Blackwater Bird?
No comment (shows tummy).
- What is it that you most dislike?
- What is your greatest regret?
There was that time I had to have some help finishing off a mouse. I’m so embarrassed. The Angel of Death requires no assistance.
- Why are you so cute?
(rolls over, shows tummy)
- What sort of music do you like?
Can I tell you what I don’t like? I don’t like live baroque flute. It hurts my ears and makes me attack the player. And there was that time Mommy had the job interview in Colonial Williamsburg and had to play fife. We don’t talk about that. I also know as a figure of some historical importance I feature prominently in many songs and tunes. I don’t mind some of them, like “Flora MacDonald’s Farewell to the Prince,” or “Flora MacDonald’s Fancy,” but some are just insipid. “Tweedside.” What beauties doth Flora disclose? How sweet are her smiles upon Tweed? Please. And don’t get me started on the “Skye Boat Song.”
- What is your motto?
Can I have two?
Nemo me impune lacessit.
Tha fios aig an luch nach ‘eil an cat a’s tigh.