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The Witches of East Reading

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Summer is almost over, and thoughts of autumn flood my mind. Another school year has just begun, and the air, while not yet chilled, is full of anticipation for all manner of new beginnings.

Retailers are already moving school supplies to the clearance aisles to make room for what has become the biggest holiday of the fall season, Halloween. From baking to candy making, costumes to parties, school parades to trick-or-treating, folks are planning ahead.

Even our pets have the opportunity to don a costume and join in the festivities, and the closer we get to the big day, the more outlandish ideas are born in some of their owners’ minds.

To each his/her own, of course, but no self-respecting feline of mine would allow such degradation!

Then again, the three Sisters of East Reading whom I reside with (we all know the cats are in charge), have their own special magic, and as they approach their six-month birthday, the more they remind me of the women in John Updike’s novel, The Witches of Eastwick.

Mr. Updike is one of our hometown heroes and walked the same hallowed halls of Shillington High School, as both of my parents did, and a mere four years behind my mother, who graduated in 1945.

His Rabbit Run series put the city of Reading on the map when the first book was made into a movie starring James Caan that was filmed locally.

Of course, many folks today are more familiar with Michael Cristofer’s screenplay that became the 1987 hit movie, ‘The Witches of Eastwick’.

My little witches were born in March, and the magic began during their unusual entrance into this world. They were their mother’s first litter, and instead of using the “nursery” I set up for her or crawling into some dark corner of the house, she insisted on delivering on my lap!

Onyxea, a.k.a., Cher, was born first, emerging breech and minus the normal sac newborn kittens normally arrive in. My husband had to assist in her delivery. Dark and still, we weren’t even sure she made it out alive at first.
However, she grew into a jet black beauty with bewitching eyes, the classic Halloween kitty.

Moogle, a.k.a., Michele Pfeiffer, was the second one to arrive, a fair-skinned, gentle Calico, who, if underestimated, will surprise you.

Hours later, the third and final sister arrived, an exotic beauty twice the size of her two siblings, whose name changed a few times before we settled on Queen Cidonia, a.k.a. Susan Sarandon, of course.

Watching the three of them growing and changing over the last six months has been an incredible journey. Their individual personalities continue to emerge, and I continue to find myself a privileged and fascinated observer.

Most bewitching about these three are their eyes. All started with the traditional baby blues, of course, but over time, as their eye colors began to change, something, dare I say, otherworldly, began to take place.

All three of them have two different color eyes. Not each eye being a different color from the other, but two different colors in each eye!

At first, I simply assumed it was a transitional period, as the baby blue changed to the permanent color.
However, it has become apparent that this is not the case.

While Onyxea and Queen Cidonia have dark amber eyes, almost caramel in color, with a distinct shade of blue surrounding their pupils, Moogle has the same pattern of blue, but with a yellow-green colored iris, instead of the amber color shared by her two sisters.

After checking their eyes daily for months, I am convinced this will remain unchanged.

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then these three have something bewitching going on.
All three of them remain strictly nocturnal, arising at around 10:00 p.m. and retiring after breakfast at around 9:00 a.m.

While Onyxea and Moogle tend to spend more time dozing together in a small room adjacent to our bathroom, “Queenie” usually retires to the window sill in our master bedroom looking down over her subjects, who range from alley cats and birds, to school children and neighbors, to the occasional wildlife that wanders into our midst from the nearby mountains that surround us.

Late afternoon and early evening will bring Moogle downstairs first, followed by Onyxea, to the living room where they perch themselves on the arm of a sofa by the front door watching our urban neighborhood traffic, both pedestrian and otherwise, until we close and lock our front door for the night.

Queenie, however, only leaves her throne to eat, drink and take care of business, until about 10:00 p.m., when she graces us mere mortals with her presence for an hour or two before we retire.

Although our Queen remains above us all, she is quite a talker, and no one can escape her demands for attention each and every time one enters her chambers on the second floor. Pick her up and her motor begins running instantly, and there is simply no end to her need to both give and receive affection.

Moogle is the sweet one. A Mama’s baby, she is entranced by my computer screen, intently watching all the movement and colors therein, and most recently attempting to try out some of the keys. In fact, if she isn’t napping, she is right here, blocking my view or laying on my shoulder looking on as I type.

Onyxea is the wild child, running through the house with reckless abandon and jumping on and off furniture as though she has springs attached to each foot. She plays far too rough for gentle Moogle, with her bearlike front paws and claws, scratching and clawing and biting down on her ear until she is satisfied that she has made her sister cry.

The only real affection she shows Moogle is to wash her and nap with her, but only after she gets her rough and tumble impulses out of her system.

However, she is a Daddy’s girl, who makes demands for special attention in a voice not unlike Squeaky Fromm’s.

So, I guess it stands to reason that she is also a delinquent, not unlike her father and uncle, who, if they were human would have quite a record at juvenile hall by now, the most frequent charge being breaking and entering, secondary only to outright defiance.

It really doesn’t matter what the rule is, in Onyxea’s world, if the rule exists then it is made to be broken.
While her father and uncle opened up cabinet doors, Onyxea has learned how to lift up a brand new rug in the kitchen and tear it up from underneath, and much to my frustration, has been quick to show Moogle how it’s done.

Queenie is the quiet one, a thinker like her Uncle Kai, who now lives on a three-acre spread with his brother, Cilli, in a nearby town. In fact, she is so much like him that we have speculated that Kai may actually be her father.

Unfortunately, Maury doesn’t cover feline family problems or DNA testing for them, so we will never know for sure.
If he did, the show would probably play out like this:

“Kai, in the case of six-month old Moogle, you are NOT the father.” “Cilli, you ARE the father.”

“Kai, in the case of six-month old Onyxea, you are NOT the father.” “Cilli, you ARE the father.”

“Kai, in the case of six-month old Queenie, you ARE the father.”

In the meantime, the Witches of East Reading continue to enchant my family, and while I briefly toyed with the idea of getting them matching black hats to wear this upcoming Halloween, I doubt they will allow it.

Nor will they allow me to photograph them during the rare moments the three of them are together. Then again, if I did manage to get a shot of them together, I doubt we would see anything other than the background.

After all, witches and warlocks do not show up on film, so I doubt today’s digital media would generate different results.

Don’t take my word for it; just ask Jack Nicholson.

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