3 Cats

3catsI live with 3 cats.

No, they’re not mine, although I am particularly fond of them. That’s just how I’ve always been. These fearless, furry, fleabag felines are just so cute and lovable, especially the way they’re fiercely independent at times while positively cloying at others.

It seems like I’ve always lived with cats. Or they’ve always lived with me. Sometimes I’m honestly not sure which is true and which is the lie. Perhaps I’ve always lived with them because they let me. They come into my life at the oddest of times and I get attached. I look into their little, expressive eyes, and my heart melts.

But they come with a severely skewed caveat, or two, or three. Because cats aren’t like dogs. They don’t go outside to get their business done, which is a major deal. Cats need litter boxes, and people assigned to clean them on a regular basis, and litter too. Litter that needs to be purchased again and again. And again.

Cats also need food. Some of them are addicted to the soft food in the little cans full of “juicy bits,” while others crunch for days on the dry food from out of the bag. And still some others eat both, whining when the bowl is empty, even if it’s the middle of the night.

Because cats are nocturnal, or if they aren’t then they’ve fooled me for 40 years. They laze around all day long, coming out at night like vampires to chase each other up and down the halls, and up and down the stairs, hissing and snarling like beasts in a cage ready to rip each other to shreds. They wake me from my precious dreams, thinking we are in the midst of the apocalypse when it is just a typical 2 AM romp.

I live with 3 cats, and each one is completely different from the others. 2 of them come and go as they please (so long as someone lets them out the door and in the door when it’s convenient for them). The other 1 stays in, even though he tries to get out when he thinks no one is paying him any mind. We are always paying him some kind of mind because we know he is shifty.

There are more cats out in the back room, but I don’t go there. I am content to pretend I live with only 3 cats, to watch these 3 sleep all day long in the patches of sunlight that are all too infrequent on this side of the house. I am just fine with cohabiting this space, in giving them their space unless they want to be near. Because I’m a cat myself, my personality meshing perfectly with theirs, living a kind of zen-like existence without the benefit of claws.

And that’s okay, because there are enough cats here who do have claws. 3, to be exact.


Noah’s Ark

noahs-arkThey came two by two, and seven by seven. No one led them, but they came anyway. Strike that. They were led by God’s invisible hand. Something like that anyway. The animals came in evens if they were unclean, and odds if they were clean. Whatever that means. Okay, I’m starting to lose the thread, but the end result is still undeniable. The Ark was the world’s first zoo, and Noah was its first zookeeper.

Perhaps I need to brush up on my Bible knowledge. I used to know it all cold. I could separate my Methuselahs from my Melchizedeks in the blink of an eye, and still have something left over for a study of Samuel vs. Joseph. Growing up as a preacher’s kid in a highly religious household did that to me, made me some kind of a Bible freak, and while I didn’t like it, it was still somehow something I took pride in. Hmmm. I heard it too.

Anyway, today my family went to an amusement park that used to have an attraction called “Noah’s Ark.” They took it down in 1989 and scattered the animals that used to belong to it around the park in other destinations, leaving a plaque behind with a picture of the former attraction and some words to the effect that it was taken down in 1989 and its animals scattered around the park.

Lexi asked me what Noah’s Ark was all about, and I’m usually the one to ask. At least I used to be. But I couldn’t even recall if the two by two were clean animals, what “clean” even meant, and how many people were on the Ark. I knew it was all Noah’s family, and everyone else who was on earth at the time drowned in the flood. I knew it was something about faith, and the faithless, and a cleansing. It’s always about a cleansing.

And a lot of rain. That’s where it began, and ended, as a matter of fact, with a lot of rain. Which is pretty much all that I think Lexi heard of my rambling story of faith, the faithless, and cleansing. Just a lot of rain. Which is okay. Because it also rained today. It’s called a frame of reference. Kids are good at that.


Skunk Season

baby-skunk (23)I drove past the dead body this morning, with equal parts apprehension and disgust; the apprehension because I worried I might graze it with one of my wheels, and the disgust because of what it was. Now I’m not generally queasy when it comes to gross things. I did help birth a few cows, after all. But sometimes the nature of the thing itself overpowers my common sense and experience. With one eye on the carcass and the other on the road I drove stealthily past and breathed a sigh of relief… until about two minutes later when I crossed paths with another one. Welcome to skunk season.

It usually lasts from mid-May until late October, unless the ground frosts early, and I find myself driving a little bit slower to hopefully avoid the carnage. Nothing says “avoid me” like the smell of fresh skunk on the tires, I assure you. I have an acquaintance who hit one once, and she said it was impossible to get the smell out of her car. Eventually, of course, she became immune to it, but whenever anyone else rode with her anywhere they twisted up their noses and asked what happened. Needless to say they did not get a second ride. Some didn’t even make it through the first one.

Skunk season means that early in the morning, before the glow of a bright new sun rising, they’re damn near invisible. One was sitting right in the middle of my driveway one morning and I didn’t even see it until I was right up on it. Luckily it didn’t sense in me any threat or I would have been coated with the vile spray, and I would probably still be gagging now. Instead I turned on my heel and retreated back into the house, hissing at it through the screen to please move because I needed to get to work.

During one particularly hot day in skunk season one year I was walking down the sidewalk and a skunk was ambling toward me from the opposite direction. It was early in the afternoon, and I had never seen a live skunk by that kind of light before, so at first I just stood there in shock. Eventually, when I realized he was still walking in my direction, I crossed to the opposite side of the street. That’s when I knew for certain that I was an anti-Skunkite. I didn’t want to be, but when faced with a skunk I would rather turn tail and run.

So now I just hope each year that I can keep up the streak of not hitting one. But I keep seeing skunk roadkill along my routes so I know that it’s only a matter of time. I just pray that by then I’ll be ready for a new vehicle anyway, because I sure as hell am not driving that one anymore. I imagine I will screech to a stop, pull my shirt over my nose and mouth, and run full force into whatever field is nearby, leaving the car to fend for itself. It’s the absolute least I can do.

In skunk season.


Identifying the Cow

cowMy youngest daughter has Down syndrome, and she struggles with identifying words, so after consulting with her teacher, and with her speech therapist, and after reading the developmental books, my wife decided to come up with activities geared towards helping her recognize and repeat simple words she should know by now. It’s amazing to me how much she does know, actually, so this afternoon I ran through the exercise with her to see her level.

The sheet is all about animals. In fact, my wife laminated it for sustainability (and she can use it as a placemat too if needed), and made move able cards to place over top of the sheet as well. On the sheet are photographs of six animals. There’s a dog, a cat, a duck, a pig, a horse, and of course the infamous cow. My job was to point to the animal’s picture and Maddie would tell me which animal it was. She identified all of them this way except for the cow. She called it a dog, refusing to accept it’s true name, which had me truly baffled.

So I tried a different tactic. I asked her what noise did that animal make, and she said “moo,” so it was clear she realized it wasn’t a dog. But why was she saying dog? So I went back after she said “moo” and asked her again the name of the animal. This time she promptly said cow. Perhaps it was just that triggering of the animal sound that made the difference. Cows do indeed say “moo.”

Then we moved on to the back of the cards that held the spelled out names of each animal, something that has long been her Achilles heel. She can generally recognize the individual letters but placing them together in words confuses her. That’s why she spent the better part of five minutes arguing with me that the one that said “cat” was in fact the one that said “cow.” She saw the “c” and didn’t look any further, which became frustrating for her and for me. Continue reading “Identifying the Cow”

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