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  • Cat Challenged

    January 29, 2011

    Many many moons ago, when our first set of next door neighbors lived next door (we are now on neighbors #3 which may or may not have something to do with us) they asked me if I would feed their cats while they were in Hawaii.

    I said yes because it’s not in my nature to turn down a request for help.  And I thought they meant “feed” the cats.  How hard can it be to walk next door and pour some food in a bowl?  But since I had not owned a cat since I was three, I didn’t understand the full implications — feed the cat is code for change the litter box.

    So a day before they were to leave for Hawaii, they called me over for my cat-feeding training.  When she took me to the guest bath off the kitchen, I started to get the idea that maybe this could involve something more than pouring food into a bowl.

    “This!” she said waving her hand Vanna-style towards a plastic washtub on the floor, “This is the litter box!” Then she proceeded to instruct me in the fine art of poop scooping.

    Although this was not what I thought I had signed up for, I couldn’t exactly back out. I had been duped like a trusting two-year-old.

    So about a day after they left, I went over to “feed” the cats.  They (the cats) ran out to greet me.  They were happy to see me and mewed and purred and affectionately rubbed up against me and serpentined between my legs as I tried to walk.  The litter box was not too terribly atrocious in my estimation, so I held my nose and scooped poo, poured some food in their bowl, patted them on their little kitty heads and went on my merry way.  This wasn’t going to be so bad, and bonus – I’ll get a star in my crown.

    About a day after that I went back for my second visit.  This time the cats did not come out to greet me but rather cowered in dark corners and hissed at me as I walked past.  I went to the guest bath for the scooping portion of the visit and good glory, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  They had dumped over the litter box, shredded the rug and shower curtain, pee’d all over everything and had apparently made a clumsy attempt at using the toilet paper.  These were some mad cats.  Vindictive too.  Some words immediately sprung to mind, all of them four-letter.  So much for that star in my crown.

    I cleaned it up as best I could and took the shower curtain and rug home to wash.  Here’s a tip. If a cat pee’s on something?  Throw it away.  Three washings later and the rug and curtain still smelled like the garbage dump from hell.

    For the remainder of my active duty, I ran in and scooped and fed as fast as I could and then ran out before they shredded me.  I was afraid. Very afraid.  They were plotting against me, I could feel it in my bones.

    That was about 10 years ago, and memories fade, so when my friend Jennifer asked me to feed her cat while her family went skiing over Christmas, I of course said yes. How hard can it be to feed a cat?

    When she called me over to give me feeding instructions and walked me to the laundry room, I had a flashback.

    “This!” she said waving her hand Vanna-style, “This is the litter box!”  This was no ordinary litter box. This was the Rolls Royce of litter boxes.  It cleaned itself automatically and had moving parts and sensors.  It was nicer than my car.  And it was idiot proof, or at least it was until I came along.  She said I shouldn’t need to do anything because the box does it all automatically, but if does need to be changed, do this and this and this and put in a tray and then do this.  And at that point, I sort of blanked out in the same way I do when someone starts talking about percentages and fractions and information that I don’t think I need.

    So about a day later I went over to feed the cat.  The cat ran out to greet me, mewed, purred and walked between my legs.

    On the second visit, the cat hid in a corner and hissed at me as I walked past.  And the Rolls Royce litter box seemed to be on the blink.  So I scooped and said four-letter words in my head and got out of there as fast as I could.

    On the third visit, I noticed that when I went in that the door from the house to the garage was open.  No worries, I figured that it popped open when I opened the garage door as sometimes happens at our house.

    So I go in and call for the cat, scoop and feed. The cat makes no appearance, but I figure she hates my guts and can’t stand the sight of me. And Jennifer said that she sometimes hides, so I left it at that and went home.

    About two hours later, this horrifying thought occurs to me:  What if the door to the garage popped open when I left on the second visit and the cat was not hiding in the house but was in the garage when I arrived?  Since I left the garage door OPEN when I was calling/feeding/scooping, perhaps the cat availed herself of the opportunity to escape the hell that is having me feed her and scoop her poop.

    And that horrifying thought was followed by this even more horrifying thought:  I don’t really know what Jennifer’s cat looks like.  Being able to identify Jennifer’s cat was one of those things that fell into the category of “stuff I don’t really need to know”.

    And then even more horrifying thoughts followed:  How am I going to find a cat that I can’t identify? What if I find a cat slinking around Jennifer’s house and I force it inside and it’s not even her cat?   And then she comes home to a new cat?

    So I go back over to Jennifer’s house to find the cat.  She has most of the doors closed off, so if it is there, it can only be in a few places.  I call and call and call for the cat. I search and search and search every possible place for the cat.  But NO CAT.  So I went home distraught over the fact that my friendship with Jennifer has ended.

    As I sat at my desk, trying to order the horrifying thoughts and figure out how I am going to tell Jennifer that I lost her cat, I get an email from her saying how her girls were crying because they really miss the cat.  I had a problem.  A big problem.  And so I did what I always do when I have a problem, I turn to the ultimate problem solver – AD.

    AD takes command and control of the situation and launches Operation Find The Cat.  He orders Sean and me to go with him back to Jennifer’s house for a search and rescue.  First we do a reconnaissance of the property, even though we have no idea what the cat looks like.  Our plan is to capture all the cats we can find and then we’ll line them all up and figure out which one is most likely to be Jennifer’s cat.  No cats were found on or near the exterior of the property, so we then systematically search the garage and the inside of the house.

    Finally, after 30 minutes of calling and searching, hand-wringing and brow-beating, Sean finds the stupid cat hiding behind the curtains in the guest room.  The cat smirks at me and hisses.  I stick my tongue out at the cat and we leave. I breathe a sigh of relief.  My friendship with Jennifer has been saved.  At least until she reads this.

    So while I am perfectly capable of watching your kid while you are gone, please do not ask me to “feed your cat.”

    How To Market Pantyhose

    January 27, 2011

    So a Sunday or two back, because it was cold, I pulled on a pair of tights to wear with a wool skirt.  I normally wear pants to church when it’s cold.  And by pants I mean slacks, not jeans.  I am not a wear-jeans-to-church kind of gal, but if you are that’s okay, not that there’s anything wrong with it, judge not, yada yada, whatever.  But for some reason I thought I would wear a skirt even though it was near freezing.

    Sidebar:  Sean really likes it when I wear a skirt or a dress, perhaps because it is so seldom.  I have a few strapless sparkly cocktail dresses left over from back in the day and he’ll often pull one of those out and suggest I wear it to church.  One time in pre-K, for a Mother’s Day project, he was supposed to draw a picture of me and then write a sentence about me.  His sentence was “My mom has a lot of fancy skirts.”  I have one fancy-ish skirt.

    Yet Another Sidebar: Okay, here’s a new trend I have observed that puzzles me – bare legs all the time, even when it is seriously cold outside.  In the summer when it’s warm, I like to wear a skirt with sandals.  That makes sense.  But when it is below, say 75?  I do NOT want the icy wind howling up the antique gams.  Not only because it’s uncomfortably cold but because blue goose-bumpy legs are not attractive.  But then again, I was a young gal in the 70’s and 80’s and owned approximately 3,825 pairs of L’eggs.  I am a product of the panty-hose generation.  Even if I had really great legs, which I do not, I would not go bare-legged with spike heels and a pencil skirt in January.

    So, on this particular cold Sunday, as we were heading out the door for church — me in my plaid wool skirt, turtle neck, Mary Janes and black tights (can’t you just picture the sexiness?)  Sean is walking behind me and makes a funny little cat-call whistle sound – woot-WOOoooh! – (because he can’t actually whistle) and says, “Mom! I reeeeally like those high heel socks!”

    And I chuckled because high heel socks sounds so much more sexy than control-top tights.

    Perhaps that’s how we could bring back pantyhose  – we could call them high heel socks.

    The Holiday Shop

    January 16, 2011

    If there was one thing I thought I knew about my child it is this:  He cannot keep a secret.

    Early in December, Sean brought home a flyer from school announcing the annual Holiday Shop!  I put the exclamation point there so you might know just how thrilled I was with this news.

    The flyer reported which classes would visit the Holiday Shop on which days and at what time.  The flyer also stated with vehemence (probably inferred on my part) that there would be NO preview this year and that the vendor was the same as last year and that it was NOT a school fundraiser.  It was totally for-profit crunk selling.

    As it turns out, we were not at the school last year, so that information, vehement or otherwise, was not useful to me.

    What information I did require was the following:  What in the heck is a Holiday Shop? What kind of holiday crunk is stocked in Ye Olde Holiday Shoppe, and most importantly how much does this crunk cost?  Oh, and hey, what about the kiddos who have no Holiday Shop spending money?  And then the question I always have when it comes to these kinds of extra-curricular events:  Can’t we just do math or phonics instead?

    So as usual when faced with a conundrum, I called my friend Jennifer who knows stuff.  She gave me the low-down on the Holiday Shop and a suggested a budget of about $5 to $10.

    When I talked to Sean later, I asked him about how much he thought he needed for this shopping spree.  He said about $30.  So I said, how about $5?  He said how about $10?  I said how about I give you $5 and you take $5 out of your bank.  He said, “Deal!” and we shook on it and signed the papers.

    Then we had a little chat about how this was Christmas, not Seanmas, and that the purpose of the Holiday Shop was so that he might buy presents for others, and by others I meant People Who Are Not Sean.  Then we had a discussion about fractions and percentages as we negotiated about how much he could spend on himself.

    The next day I sent him off to school with his $5 and my $5 expecting the same winning results you might get in Las Vegas.  When he came home from school I asked to see his purchases.  With much pride he showed me the Cowboys pennant he bought for his father and the camouflage-motif pencil he bought for Papa George.  And then he showed me the dog-tag style necklace with a soccer pendant he bought for himself.

    “Did you get anything else?” I asked coyly, “Anything for anyone else?”

    “Nope,” he said definitively and handed me the $7.25 he did not spend.

    I chuckled to myself as I turned his backpack inside out looking for the other gifts. Surely there were other gifts, surely.  But no….

    We wrapped the pennant and the pencil and put them under the tree and I thought no more of it because I knew my broken and wounded heart would someday mend.

    On Christmas Eve I unwrapped the gifts from my big boyfriend and my little boyfriend — an ornament from Target which I had purchased myself and handed off to big boyfriend for wrapping, and a pair of much-needed slippers which I requested.  No surprises there but much delight all the same.

    “Oh, one more thing Mom!” Sean said as he dove under the tree.  He returned with a tiny package, merrily wrapped with a ribbon and secured with a lot of tape.  He handed it to me, glowing, as though it were a jewel he had just plucked from its slumber in the earth.

    I couldn’t imagine what it could be but suspected it was something that he had made at school, something with glitter and glue and probably macaroni.

    Inside was a pretty little ring with a blue stone that he had purchased at the Holiday Shop.

    “Are you surprised Mom? Are you? You thought I forgot you, didn’t you!” he laughed.

    “It cost a dollar!” he enthused, then  quickly added, “I’m sorry it’s not a real diamond.”

    “I love it,” I said with all honestly.

    I slipped it on my finger, adjusted the band for a custom-fit and then held out my hand to admire it.

    It was a complete surprise.

    It was beautiful.

    It pinched my finger.

    And my heart.

    Things I Falsely Believe

    January 13, 2011

    Random, Stray and Otherwise Unassigned Thoughts:

    If I could just find the right color of blush I wouldn’t look so washed out.

    Someday I will find the “right” haircut and I’ll have fabulous easy to do hair that always looks great.

    Jeans are comfortable.

    My kid is astonishingly smarter/cuter/funnier than all the other kids.

    My seven-year-old will always be the loving, delightful and polite little fella he is today.

    My husband forgets to take out the trash on purpose.

    If I get it on sale, I’m saving money.

    I can still shop in Juniors.

    Everyone else has it together/knows what they’re doing.

    Fun-sized Snickers are a healthy nutritious snack.

    Someday I will get rid of The Mole.

    And then I will have a beautiful Southern Living yard.

    Coffee counts towards my daily 8-glasses of water because it’s made with water.

    That weird smell coming from the sink disposal is probably nothing.