Around here, Virginia Wolfe is considered ‘the other woman’ since she commands a significant amount of my husband’s attention. He adores both her and Catherine Mansfield almost equally, and spends much time expounding upon their virtues and generally referencing them at every turn in his daily life. He spent many years teaching their novels at different Universities he worked at, and whenever I am struggling with my writing, it is one of those two women he turns to for his ‘Educating Rita’ type lessons. More often than not, Virginia wins by a hair: “She is the master of sentence structure,” he tells me proudly, as if he secretly had something to do with her ability.
Since building our new poultry barn which allows us to store more animal feed, I have wanted to have a cat around to keep the mice away. Three days ago, Clarence fulfilled my wishes and brought a wild kitten from his place to Howling Duck Ranch for me. It was the only one left of about 30 wild cats he’d been feeding around his home; the others were eaten by the cougar (which was finally killed last week). He’d thought he’d lost all of them until this little gal showed up again the other day, and he offered her to me.
I had not wanted a cat because of the worry about having to train them not to eat my own stock. I’m hoping that because she was raised on Clarence’s place, she won’t be difficult to keep from going after my birds (like me, he keeps a flock of about 100 chickens for eggs)–Clarence wouldn’t put up with a chicken -killing cat or any animal, for that matter.
She is an orange cat with green eyes, a white bib, white and darker orange rings on her tail, and white French tipped toes. Once I had her safely installed in my little old gal’s ‘live animal’ transport cage (that had brought Tatra back to Canada from New Zealand), I began searching for names. Amber… no that’s the name of a gal that runs the local campground; Peaches… no, my friend’s dog has taken that; Kit, as in Kit-cat… no, that was the name of my horse in Regina, Saskatchewan. It occurred to me that my husband might like to come up with a name since he’d not named many of the critters around here; besides he’s really more of a cat person than I am.
While I was cooking dinner and pondering this, the cat meowed. Actually, I have yet to hear a full throttled meow out of her; this sound was more of a peep–well, as close to a peep as a cat can manage. I went to see what she wanted and as I opened the door to the ‘Room of Her Own’, quite involuntarily, the first few bars of ‘Only the Good Die Young’, with only slight variation to the lyrics, escaped my lips: ‘Come out, Virginia, don’t let me wait/You kitty-cat girls start much too late’–and it just seemed appropriate. Virginia. Virginia kitty. Not only would this name satisfy the Literature Professor in my hubby (I rationalized); it also appeals to the Billy Joel fan in me. Besides, rumor has it that Virgina Wolfe said in public that Catherine Mansfield ‘smelled like a civet cat’, which is a pretty catty thing to say about someone!