* Warning: This post has a tendency to wander all over the place with no regard for consistency of thought or interest of its viewers.
***N.B. I must reveal (lest some folks’ noses get out of joint) that there are not only two, but four! ( what am I, mad?) felines in this household. Although they have not been mentioned in this post, Daisy and Red have their own stories (and poems).
I’m finally getting ’round to something for which I was tagged a little while back.
Blicky Kitty (oh, if you’ve never visited her blog, you simply MUST!) tagged me for a strange photo meme called the Fourth of the Fourth. I admit, it took me a while to work out what she meant, but then I can be logic-challenged at times, but I got the fact that it meant a 4th picture from a 4th album. Now, I thought that was from your good, old-fashioned photo albums, you know, the kind that weigh a ton and take up room on your shelves (or in my case) hidden away in a drawer somewhere. In actual fact, she meant something on your computer, in your documents files or on an online photo album or some such. Now, I use Picasa2, but I generally refer to my own docs when I want to access those photos.
Here’s my problem: I am without a scanner, so (as you may have noticed) a good deal of my photos come from the likes of Flickr (or even E-bay). I have got to get myself a scanner, for sure.
Anyway, I took a photo from one of my smaller albums with accordion-style plastic sleeves. I did grab the 4th album and the 4th picture, so I stuck to the rules.
Now for some background on the photo: This is not my child, or my grandchild (of which I have neither), nor is it my niece (of which I have one), nor is it my neighbour or even me, as a kid. Nope. This is me, circa 2001, shortly after we bought our beloved Hyggehus. We bought this house in May of 2001 and we moved in on July 26th. I remember we packed everything we owned from our townhouse on Brandy Crescent into a rented van and we were ready to move in by oh, 11:00 a.m. on that Friday. Well, the previous owners (whose credit card mail we still receive) failed to relinquish the keys until about 7:00 p.m. and they left so much junk in the basement (including an ancient, deep-freezer that could hold a moose and which will not go through the basement door or up the stairs unless we hire someone to come and surgically remove it!) that we’re still finding it.
But I digress (big time, I know, but I’m a Cancer on the Gemini-cusp and I tend to do that a good deal as a result, plus, I’ve just had 2 cups of coffee and that’s never good).
See the little black head rising above the blades of grass in the left corner of the photo? That’s my boy, Gilbert. He’s a gentle soul who’s had more than his fair share of urinary tract ailments, constipation issues (we just got through one this week – here’s a tip: canned pumpkin, who knew?) and seasonal sniffles. In this photo, he was recovering from a urinary bout that nearly took his life. We have nursed him back to health many times after vets have gouged us for hundreds of dollars, only to leave us high and dry with only the prospect of more tests and NO answers. I now refer at all times to my bible: Prevention Magazine’s “The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats“. Invaluable!
And then there’s Blanche.
Blanche is the antithesis of Gilbert. She’s a feisty, snarky puss when she wants to be and she’s only been sick once in all her 15+ years, although she is prone to hotspots and we once christened her the “English Patient” when I fashioned a mask out of a sock to cover her face and prevent her from scratching herself.
Blanche is also a catnip addict! When we were first married, we lived in a basement apartment in a house with a huge paved backyard. The house was surrounded by all sorts of plants growing up the fence and we made the HUGE error of taking Blanche out on a lead for a little stroll one evening. Well! She got wind of some catnip plants and the rest of our stay in that apartment was a living, H-E-double hockey-sticks because she spent the majority of it wailing to get outside! Being apartment dwellers, we did not want to have outdoor cats as they might be at risk of all sorts, so we just kept Blanche well stocked up with a fresh supply of the bagged stuff until she eventually lost interest.
Our first apartment was in a building in the north end of Toronto. It had the romantic name of Heathwood Manor. No doubt the original area had been a forest of sorts and not a series of dingy lowrise apartments flanking the surging Highway 401, as it was when we lived there.
At the time we merged into, what my dad liked to call “marital harness”, we also merged the lives of Blanche and Gilbert. “G” was the runt of a litter birthed from a stray cat my work-mate had taken in from the Grimsby area. “B” was a lucky gal who won us over at the Newmarket Humane Society when she caught my sweater with her claw and gave me the “look”. Cat-people know what I’m talking about – I need not explain.
The merger was testy in the beginning, but Blanche and Gilbert became not just mates, but co-conspirators in the effort to a) get as much food as possible as often as possible and b) keep us awake at night with scratching at the bedroom door and yowling in the wee hours of the morning (to further the prospects of plan “a”).
Nothing we did would thwart their schemes. Even smears of Tiger Balm and orange peels at the foot of the bedroom door would not keep them at bay! In the end, we did what all smart cat-owners do: we gave up. Bring a cat into your life and it’s rather like a prenup; you sign it all over to them – all the rights you have get tossed out the window in favour of the sweet, furry face or that cute habit they have of grinding you down with their interminable wailing. (Did I mention Gilbert has Siamese in him?)
Now, where was I? If you’ve persisted this far, I commend you and thank you. You really are my loyal readers! Now for a little reward for your efforts: Here’s a poem I wrote at Heathwood Manor that will better put you in the picture.
Gilbert and Blanche (written in the winter of 1994 at Heathwood Manor)
Black as night,
Whiter than white,
Gilbert and Blanche
Stay up despite
All my pleas
To quell their noise,
While Blanche destroys
An eight-hour sleep
Would be so nice,
But as the light
Creeps through the blind
My teeth I grind
“It’s only 4 a.m.!” I shout
“Away wee beasties
Fore I gi’ ye a clout!”
Then I grab for my bottle
And douse him with spray
‘Til poor ol’ Gilbey
With Blanche in tow–
His little spy
And trundle back to
Bed do I
Where Kev lies sleeping,
And leaves the dirty
Jobs to me!
Kathleen Mortensen © 1994
(written in the winter at Heathwood Manor)