September 02, 2009

My Cats: Putting The Fun In Dysfunctional posted by Lorraine (L.L.) Bartlett, also known as Lorna Barrett Writing about your dysfunctional family is liable to be the stuff of lawsuits, so today I think I'll stick with the cats in my family. After all, you don't get to pick your family, but in this case, we did pick our four cats. Our last batch of cats got along well. Okay, three of them got along well--in three combinations. Kate and Henry never got along. I say that, but then why did they so often turn up sleeping on the same (albeit opposite ends of the) couch. Henry was around long enough to live with three of the current four before he had a stroke at the age of 16. We seem to stick with four cats (five strains the system), and here's a longer account of how we got our cats. Now our oldest are a couple of sisters from the local humane society. We'd gone to Lollipop Farm with the idea of getting one kitten, but the girls clung to each other in their cage with their little kitty arms around each other and we couldn't bear to split them up. They are Betsy and Bonnie. Chester came almost a year later. We bought him at a pet store. He'd been returned. He cost $49.99 and I bought him for my husband as a Christmas present. After Henry went to his reward, Chester started picking on the girls. He'd look at them, and they'd scream. We thought (wrongly so) that bringing in another boy cat might distract Chester. He'd wrestled with Henry and enjoyed it, so maybe he'd like to pal around with another guy kitty. Once again we were sucked in by siblings. Two adult male cats who'd been with an animal rescue organization's tiny cage for THIRTY NINE WEEKS. (Also told in more detail in the link above.) Sadly, it didn't work out. After six months of trying to make it work, George found a new home in Buffalo (where he became king of that castle in about 45 seconds) and Fred stayed with us. Fred is the most affectionate cat I've ever had (and I've had a lot of lap cats). Fred became my Tiny Son. He's also a bit of a dim bulb. He probably should've been born a greyhound, because he loves to run. He also likes to chase--Bonnie and Betsy. (Okay, sometimes, if he's in the mood, Chester will let him chase him.) Of course, when he chases the girls, it's accompanied by ear-splitting screams, hisses, and growls. Fred also suffers from "twitchy cat syndrome." Of course Fred has to buck one of the symptoms, which is sensitivity to petting. It's only my petting him that calms him down. The girls aren't the least bit neurotic. (Cough cough.) They're certainly not the only cats on the planet (or at least this country) that will only drink water out of the tap. Good thing we live on the shore of one of the great lakes, because our bathroom faucet is on perpetual drip to quench their thirsts. Chester is a "wool eater." Nothing is safe with him around. Soon after he arrived, my stuffed animals were getting . . . moved. Now, nothing made of fabric is safe. Doilies, dust clothes, socks, towels--yes, full-sized towels--might show up anywhere. (A former diaper used as a dust cloth seems to be his current favorite piece of fabric. That diaper's been everywhere!) Bonnie lives a life of quiet desperation. When she's not at ye olde drinking fountain, she's behind the leather love seat or under the living room bookshelves. Okay, she does come out at Happy Hour for her kitty snacks, and will often come sit next to/or on me. Lately Fred has decided that he'd like to keep her company. Even if it's not such a rare thing anymore, we feel the need to chronicle this miracle. (We've got tons of pictures of Kate and Henry on the old couch.) For years, we slept (very happily) with the bedroom door closed. But then during the Fred/George siege, Frank let Chester (who was constantly being attacked) come sleep with us. That opened the flood gates. Now, most nights, we've got three of them in with us. They take up a disproportionate amount of our king-sized bed, too. We end up clinging to the edges--with very few covers--while 30+ pounds of cat(s) take up 60% of the middle of the bed. Sometimes they sleep peacefully--sometimes they don't. It's not rare that Betsy will wake us up with her growling and swearing because some boy cat is LOOKING at her in the dark. Mind you, these same cats often sleep together in perfect harmony under the 200 watt light bulb in Frank's office, but perhaps being nocturnal, they'd rather fight it out at night. Our old bunch of cats knew where their food was put down, and they all ate their own. Not this group. If they decide to show up, they may or may not eat their own food. Usually they lick up the gravy, and then check out each other's bowls. Boys prefer the girl's food, and girls prefer to eat the boy's food. Same stuff, same amount--but somehow the grub is always better in someone else's bowl. One thing we can say, with four cats around, it's never boring around here. How many of you are staff to your cats?
Go Ahead, Stimulate My Economy! (part I) posted by Jeanne Munn Bracken We New Englanders consider ourselves to be hardy stock. Sure, we complain about the weather, but we must secretly enjoy it or we'd all move to, say, California. This year, though, has been a bit of a challenge. So far in 2009 we've had Winter with Ice, Spring with Monsoons (which lasted until the end of July) and Road Construction. Apparently our various governmental agencies have had work piling up waiting for funding, and the Economic Stimulus Plan seems to have provided for the current spate (gush? tidal wave?) of road construction. First off, I live on Goldsmith Street, which has been legendary in our town for really, really bad potholes, frost heaves, and mud puddles. A few years ago some wit posted a sign over one of the more notable bumps: "Goldsmith Gulch." Another guy put a big sign up on his lawn: "Fix Goldsmith St. It's embarassing (sic) to our town." (Personally, I thought his spelling was embarrassing to our local school system, but nobody asked me.) This spring when a bunch of fifth graders in town were asked what their wishes were for the summer, several said "Fix Goldsmith St." I have a feeling they were coached, but so be it. In sum, it's been a huge problem and plans for its total reconstruction have been in the works for years. After a hearing at least 3 years ago when the town showed what trees would have to be cut, the project was placed on the list for 2013, if I recall correctly. So I was pleased to learn that the federal government had agreed to pay for most of the new street. Since we plan to put our house on the market next year, we figured the construction would be finished, dropping one objection from our property. The work started this spring. So did the rain. And the rain continued. The work continued, too, sort of, although the initial phase that involved tearing up the whole street and moving around mountains of fill and stuff was not a whole lot of fun. I learned to drive to town the other way, a couple of miles longer but at least my little SUV wouldn't bottom out on the newly created gorges, ravines, and other bone-rattling temporary afflictions. Add to that the daily detours. I have driven streets I haven't seen since my days pushing cranky babies in strollers--and the younger of them is now 27. (Although, come to think of it, she still fits the cranky description.) The lower part of the street is now paved, which means the whole mess will be approaching our address soon. Can't wait. The Goldsmith Street Experience ($5.2 million for 1.45 miles) has been so awful that the fellow who had the big "embarassing" sign has changed his tune. His billboard now reads "Fix Goldsmith? What the **** was I thinking?" And it's not just our street or our town, as I will note next week.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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