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Emily Grossman

Take Three: The Hemingway Cat

August 25, 2008 at 10:04 AM

After waiting for a break in the weather, we loaded up the camera gear and headed just down the road to an old homestead cabin out on Mackey Lake Road. The woman who gave us permission to use her place was away at work, so we made ourselves at home in her overgrown front yard, amidst fireweed and dying petunias. From the window, an unattended Hemingway cat watched curiously as we laid the tracking and searched for a power outlet. Both outlets were occupied, so Jim decided to unplug one of the existing chords so that we could get going.

My job was to keep my makeup fresh and my fingers warm under cool temps and overcast skies. The bugs were only mildly annoying, but I put on some spray anyway so they would quit hovering around my every move.

Sitting on an old stump, I played through half a dozen fiddle tunes while the kinks were being worked out with the recording equipment. We stopped often, for airplanes and lawn mowers, and the occasional passing car. Meanwhile, a neighbor came home from work and got out of his truck to see what the heck was going on next door. As it turned out, we had cut the power to his trailer, and now his two pot pies were in the process of thawing out in his freezer. He didn't seem to mind too much. Instead, he dug out a disposable camera and began taking photos of me as I played jigs and reels.

In the window, the Hemingway cat was stealing the show now, climbing on the screen, knocking down fixtures, and chewing on the begonia. Finally, she settled into the scene and sat listening. I settled down a bit, too, and played a Scottish ballad for my feline audience, who gazed at me through the window with a warm smile. Then, with a yawn and an arching of back and tail, she slipped behind the curtain for her afternoon nap.


Raindrops grew from spittle to earnest sprinkles, forcing us to scramble for tarps and wrenches, pulling apart equipment in what was becoming a curtain of rain. What seemed like moments of work turned out to be four hours of filming. I'd say in all, we got roughly two minutes of usable footage.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on August 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM
Okay, clearly I don't know my Hemingway and/or I missed another pertinent thread, because I have no clue what a Hemingway cat is.


From Tom Steele
Posted on August 25, 2008 at 1:30 PM
I think it's a cat with an extra toe.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 25, 2008 at 3:50 PM
Terez, whew, I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't get the reference.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 25, 2008 at 5:48 PM
This one had seven toes on each front foot. They got their name because Hemingway had so many cats, and half of them had extra toes.
From Marianne Hansen
Posted on August 25, 2008 at 8:46 PM
I always thought of them as "polydactylic." Shows what being married to a biologist will do for you, instead of to a lit major.
From Tom Steele
Posted on August 25, 2008 at 9:25 PM
Aren't you glad it wasn't because the cat blew its head off with a shotgun. Though with that extra toe, it's easier to reach.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on August 26, 2008 at 2:56 AM
Even though you spent four hours working and got only two minutes of usable film, I'll bet that those two minutes were great. Consider all you've learned from this and how much easier it will be next time.
From Patty Rutins
Posted on August 26, 2008 at 1:54 PM
Yeah... now you know where the power outlet is. :)

It sounds like a nice time, though, even if you didn't get as much footage as you wanted. A lovely day's adventure.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 26, 2008 at 9:59 PM
I wasn't disappointed at all. As my friend said, "Two minutes is a lot of footage!"
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 27, 2008 at 3:46 AM
It's a lot if they're paying by the linear foot. Those Hollywood slickers will probably say they meant the cubic foot.

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