Illegal Felines and Crimes Against Friendship

Barbara Kingsolver, whose lifestyle incidentally I aspire to, changed her writing following living off the land for a year. According to my mother, she became sanctimonious and dull. So in the interest of avoiding said pitfall, here is an engaging story, which has nothing to do with the environment. Mom I dedicate this post to you.

I have only a sister. But growing up in a church, my family spent every Sunday morning, the occasional Sunday afternoon and every New Year’s Eve with another family, who had two boys the same age as myself and Diana. This was in addition to seeing these boys at every single church event that happened during the week. Effectively rendering Jamie and Jackie the boys in the family, the closest thing I have to brothers.

My mother and the boys’ mother Janie, often talked about how wonderful it would be if either Diana or I married one of Janie’s boys so we’d all be related. This gives you an idea of the closeness of our two families.

Janie and Lane, her husband decided to go away one weekend. My mother quickly offered to care for the boys. At home, Lane was a formidable figure. A cheapskate to the core, he preferred to risk death by pruning the fifty foot tall trees on his property himself rather than paying someone. A strict disciplinarian, things like rabble rousing, takeout pizza and pets were not permitted in his home. Jamie and Jackie knew this and followed the rules to a T.

In comes my mother, who believes that the real world can discipline children with consequences better than any parent and that every child has a right to a pet. This was the woman charged with caring for Lane and Janie’s sons for a weekend.

Friday night went off without a hitch. For the first time in their lives, Jamie and Jackie ate pizza that was delivered to the door. They covered their amazement and awe by devouring every last piece of the cheesy pie. At a reasonable hour, my mother tucked them both into the guest room bed and hugged them good night. So far so good.

It was the Saturday morning when the wheels began to fall off the cart. After a filling breakfast of pancakes topped with anything us children could think of in the kitchen including caramel sauce and maraschino cherries, my mother turned to the group of us and asked what we wanted to do that day. In a sugar induced fog, we all shrugged assuming that the weekend would consist or some combination of tag and playing at the park. “We’re going to buy Jamie and Jackie a cat!” exclaimed my mother.

The boys were dumbfounded. They knew this was not allowed. Scholarly pets like ant farms were forbidden so a cat was definitely against the rules. However the laws of their house dictated that they respect the adult in charge and for that weekend the adult was my mother so away we all went to the pet store.

An hour later Harley the cat rode home on Jamie and Jackie’s laps. The rest of the day was spent playing with the kitten, dressing him up in dolls clothes, cuddling the fur ball and in general enjoying all the perks of pet ownership. At an appropriate time, my mother tucked the boys and Harley into the guest room bed and hugged them goodnight.

The next afternoon, my mother dropped the boys off, Lane met them at the door. Clapping his eyes on the cat he demanded that we “Take it back”. “It’s an animal, not a sweater Lane” my mother replied “and besides it’s your cat.” Lane was unmoved “Take it back” he repeated as my mother brought Harley and all his accoutrements that we had purchased the day before into the house. “He’s so cute!” Janie exclaimed. “Don’t get attached, he’s going back” Lane deadpanned.

And that was how one of my mother’s closest friends got a cat. Appropriately, out of defiance for Lane, Harley is still alive. At 25, he skulks around their house, essentially just a bit of fur stuck on a pile of bones but living nonetheless.

At the age of ten, I knew that my mother hadn’t asked permission from Lane. Or even bothered to question the boys on what type of pet they’d like. But it was only at 32 that I thought to ask the most important question, after reliving the story over the phone one night. “Mom, did Janie even know?”  Still laughing from the memory of her ballsy acquisition she somewhat sheepishly confessed “Nope”.

Readers, I invite you all to suggest ways my mother can atone for her sins. Keeping in mind that she once tried to make my childhood home into a zoo, so taking in animals is NOT a punishment.

And Mom, you know that we will always love you Mrs. Flax.

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The Infamous “Furry” Post

A couple of days ago I joked on Facebook that one of my love letter posts was going to be about furries. Though my next Valentine is for someone with fur, it thankfully is not about people dressing up as hedgehogs and bumping uglies because that would get me into a lot of trouble with my Aunty Camelia* “Hey! Do you mind? This is a family blog.”

Dear Whiskey,**

You are the nicest, best cat that I’ve ever met in the whole wide world. I think this might be because you are not actually a cat. Your adorable, stubby tail gives you a bear-like appearance so you might be a Bearcat, in which case, I have amazing news- there’s a song written about you. However your habit of meeting me at the door when I arrive home leads me to believe that you might actually be a dog. Whiskey, your assumption that everyone wants to pet you further supports this theory. It’s as though every hour I spend at home is snuggle o’clock. What’s even better is that when I’ve had a rough day, you seem to sense this and up the cuddle ante by trying to share tiny chairs with me. We’re both going to pretend you don’t do this solely to eat my dinner. Again, you might be a dog.

I must confess though, your insistent need to clean me, makes me think you are in fact a cat. Or at the very least have OCD. I’ve never known another animal to painstakingly scrub my hands and sometimes my face with their tongue. This is partially why I won’t allow you to sleep in my room- I fear waking up, to you restyling my hair after your kitty senses conclude that it is too dirty.

Whiskey, my lovable friend, even your bad habits are endearing; the way you wash your dirty paws in the toilet after hunting mice in the dirt floored basement? So cute. Almost as cute as the muddy footprints you leave all over the bathtub afterwards. We won’t even touch on how amusing it is that you also bathe your filthy paws in people’s drinking glasses. A fact I learned only after living with you for two months. Whiskey, I also believe that “a peck of dirt never hurt”, that being said, I didn’t actually intend to consume a whole peck, you’ve helped me with that significantly. Regardless of how much soil you have me unintentionally imbibing, I love you Whiskey and to show this I shall do something special.

Seeing as you’ve eaten all the mice that once called this heritage house home, (And worked off the accompanying weight gain that eating an entire colony of rodents causes. Good job by the way.) for Valentine’s Day, I shall invite the furry pets from the neighbouring houses to come party here. You’re welcome.

The Great Unwashed

This post is dedicated to my roommate, owner and fellow lover of Whiskey. But only because Whiskey can’t read.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of family members who are regular readers, the rest of you – take heed; I could spill the beans on that awkward family picnic and publish your real name if you don’t start reading my blog yesterday. Actually last month- look in the archives.

**Names have been changed because Whiskey is so lovely and unique that he’s almost a person and I change people’s names on this blog.

Chicken Little and Monster Hands

I’m not Doctor Doolittle but in general, I can take care of most animals. Feeding a dog? Piece of cake. Clipping a cat’s claws? No problem. But when it comes to birds, well, that’s another story.

This is me at the park. (Photo Credit: www.houselogic.com)

This is me at the park. (Photo Credit: http://www.houselogic.com)

Last summer I dog-sat my friend Sula’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel after she got spayed. My afternoon schedule looked something like this

12:00 pm – Puppy cuddles

12:30 pm – More puppy cuddles

1:00 pm- Puppy snuggles just for something different

1:30 pm – And back to puppy cuddles

2:00 pm – Change position once leg falls asleep, followed by more puppy cuddles. Continue until 5 pm when Sula arrives home.

The silent sleepy days that Maddie and I spent together were punctuated by the cries of Sula’s bird. The first day I was there, her indignant squawks reached a feverish pitch around one o’clock.

I’ve never had a bird; Sula’s pet was the first real exposure I’d ever had with a feathered friend. By contrast, Sula, and almost everyone she knew worked in Canada’s foremost bird research facility, so I had spent many an evening watching each of them handle Sula’s colourfully plumed pet with assured confidence.

The shrill, piercing squawks increased in frequency and length, I knew that the bird wanted to fly. Shoring up my confidence, I opened the cage. The little lovebird hopped down from her perch and into the opening, quiet having been appeased. I sat back down on the couch to pet a sleepy Maddie.

That was when all hell broke loose. Not only did Sula’s bird want freedom, but she wanted attention too. Soaring up to the ceiling and then quickly back down, she commenced dive bombing Maddie and me. All the while screeching angry messages in bird language which I interpreted as “This is for ignoring me- watch as I do an impression of a throwing knife landing in your hair!” Folding myself over the sick little dog, I tried to come up with a plan. The bird kept up her swooping, loud air-show, calling out smugly in bird language; “If you thought the Gingerbread man was hard to catch just try and put me back in my cage. Freedom! Freedom!” I swear these cries were followed by a maniacal, birdy laughs.

This guy is a picnic next to the feathered missile I released upon Maddie and me. (Photo Credit : nanceejean.com)

This guy is a picnic next to the feathered missile I released upon Maddie and me. (Photo Credit : nanceejean.com)

After suffering for ten minutes under the bird’s regime, I gathered some courage and decided to put an end to the madness. Channeling the practiced grace that I had watched Sula and her friends handle the bird with, I reached for the small, chirping dictator when she landed on the couch.

As the bird hopped towards my outstretched fingers, I felt a swell of confidence, the reign of terror would end; I would put the winged pest back in her cage and throw a blanket over it without the slightest trace of guilt. That was when the bird bit me. Yelping in surprise, I yanked my hand back. Rubbing my sore digit, I decided to show more confidence. As sternly as I could, I extended my hand again. And once again the bird bit me. Glaring at the smug winged dictator, I pondered over the fact that birds are related to snakes. As I gingerly held my two bitten fingers, I decided this bird was perhaps more closely related to serpents than others of her kind.

I glanced around the house as the bird took flight again, continuing her dive bombing fighter jet impressions, and then I saw my saviors; Sula’s pink rubber dish washing gloves a.k.a. Unwashed finger protectors. Donning the large pink gloves, I recommenced my attempts to trap the bird. But to the bird, the magenta rubber had transformed my hands from food into monster appendages intent on avian death. Her shrieks changed to terrified calls for help. As I chased the flapping green creature around Sula’s house, Maddie looked on pitifully from the couch, occasionally wincing from the chaos and the din.

After ten minutes, I was out of breath and no closer to catching the bird, so I removed the gloves and placed them back in their spot on the kitchen counter. I sat back down on the couch, resigning myself to the fact that I was going to do chicken little impressions, covering my head each time that pieces of the feather covered sky made a bee line for my head.

Surprisingly the bird was relieved by the return of my non-monster hands and came to perch on my shoulder for a rest. Looking at the door of the cage and at the size of my bird free shoulder, I walked towards the bird’s home, moving carefully so as not to scare the tired creature into flight. Leaning down, I lined up my bird shoulder with the opening and then quick as a flash, I shoved the bird and as much of my body as I could into the cage. The bird screeched in surprise. But I had done it! Triumphantly I latched the metal closure and glared at my enemy. That was the last time I ever tried to commune with Sula’s feathered friend.

We Should Do Brunch

Much to my great pleasure and surprise, life stopped beating the snot out of me. Regrettably, life is still life which means it’s continuously handing me lemons, but at a more manageable rate thankfully, so I’m able to turn to those around me and say “Who wants dessert? Lemon meringue anyone?”

Which is my way of telling you, my fair readers, that I made everyone pie. Actually that isn’t true; I am neither that skilled nor that motivated. However I thought about making pie, in my world that’s practically the equivalent of the act itself. Often in my life I’ll think of jobs and assume because I’ve thought of them, that I’ve completed the tasks. Hence why I’m writing this post in the dark, let that be the lesson of the day; pay the electricity company, they have no sense of humour and a complete lack of regard for the fact that their customers contemplated paying the hydro bill multiple times.

I digress, for those of you who have been steered this way from North of the Grid, I apologize, not only is this not a science blog packed with useful information but we’re out of pie. My condolences, however the invitation did say come early. What you have stumbled upon is a humour blog that contains record of all of the nonsensical things I do to myself and loved ones.

And on that note, allow me to share my most recent paddleboarding experience. Last Saturday, having learned my naked, cold lesson the previous week, I arrived at the dock fully kitted out and ready to sit Maddie on a paddleboard for a couple hours with me.

This is Maddie her hobbies include chasing squirrels, trailing bits of sticks into the house and staring woefully at me while I paddleboard. Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com

This is Maddie. Her hobbies include chasing squirrels, trailing bits of sticks into the house and staring woefully at me while I paddleboard. Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com

“Hello” I said waving cheerily to the blonde, tanned youths working at the dock, “I’m the naked gongshow from last week. I’ve come to give a repeat performance.” At which point the youths all shaded their eyes, ostensibly to protect them from the sun but more likely because the young workers had no desire to see my doughy midsection again.

The young man, who I can only assume drew the short straw, held the paddleboard for me while I took out a bathmat and proceeded to press the suction cups to the nose of the watercraft. “This is so the dog will have something to grip” I explained while the silicon mat made “sqwoosh, shlup” sounds on the fibreglass board. Then I secured the dry bag, stuffed to the brim with a towel, sunscreen and a doggy snuggie to the back of the paddleboard.

Even canines like to get warm and fuzzy after they fall in the river. Photo Credit: community.babycenter.com

Even canines like to get warm and fuzzy after they fall in the river. Photo Credit: community.babycenter.com

Next of course came Maddie herself, who was looking bulky and resplendent in her lifejacket. That is, as long as resplendent means awkward and funny-looking. Then of course I had to remove her lead and secure it to the back of the board with the dry bag. It was at that moment, kneeling on the board with a dog on a bathmat on the nose and what was in essence a giant doggie diaper bag on the other end, that I realized that I had failed to grab a paddle. “Help!” I cried to the youth who had long since given up feigning interest in my floating sideshow and let go of the paddleboard, “I need a paddle!”

At first, I was handed a  broken paddle which was missing a section “This won’t do” I told the youth gesturing towards Maddie’s small shape on the front of my board “Do you not see all the extra weight I have to propel forward? I need a whole paddle.”

Eventually an unbroken paddle was found and away we went. The Provincial Park staff has since begun campaigning for a raise, supposedly to compensate for all the nut jobs they are forced to assist.

Naked in Public: The Nature Edition

Tis the season for stand up paddleboarding, a time when Canadians shuck off their parkas, then pack up and head to the local provincial park to balance on flat pieces of fibre glass. Paddling my way down a river is one of my favourite ways to pass a late spring morning. The fact that this sport is the sexy, new activity that every celebrity is trying, of course adds to my enjoyment.

(Photo Credit : celebuzz.com)

Of course I look exactly like this while paddling on the river. Except that I’m not in Hawaii. Or that tall. And I don’t own cute bathing suits. Ok this looks nothing like me paddleboarding. (Photo Credit : celebuzz.com)

Tragically it does not add to my canine companion’s enjoyment of the activity. Although I would counter that if Maddie was given a paddle, her love of the sport would increase exponentially. Yesterday found me peacefully making my way up the river, Maddie perched on the nose of my board, staring balefully at me, her doggy eyes questioning when we would head back. On a separate piece of fibreglass paddled my friend Natalie*. 

There is one thing that you need to know about Natalie; she is the most organized person on the face of the planet. On this day my friend had packed; a towel for the beach, dry clothes in case she became sweaty or fell in and sunscreen even though she applied a coating to her entire person before venturing out of the house. By contrast I brought; Maddie, a doggy lifejacket and the slightly off colour dog towel to dry Maddie off afterward.  I have no doubt that if I had chosen to perch Maddie on Natalie’s board, the public nudity would never have occurred. In life, some people are destined to make good decisions while the rest of us get to flounder about and watch. I really wish I didn’t watch so often.

So there Maddie and I are, paddling along. Well, I was paddling and Maddie was trying to telepathically communicate how much she hates paddleboarding, when the little dog shifts, loses her balance and falls in the river. The little King Charles Cavalier can swim, however dogs don’t come with handles whereas lifejackets do, thus she was wearing hers. Grabbing hold of the polyester handhold, I removed her squirming form from the water and placed the dog gently back on the nose of the board. 

As you can see, Maddie loves water. (Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com)

As you can see, Maddie loves water. (Photo Credit: northofthegrid.com)

There Maddie sat, miserable and now sopping. However it was a warm day, so I hoped she would dry quickly. Glancing down a couple minutes later, I realized her little doggy haunches were shaking violently. The only thing I had with me on the board was the now soaked dog towel. A brighter person like Natalie might have stowed such an item on the back of the board, where there was little danger of contact with sopping wet water dogs.

So I did what any sane, animal loving person would do. In the middle of the river I started to strip. Off came my sweater. I wrapped it around Maddie’s tiny back, the sleeves I secured around her stick thin legs. She continued to shiver. 

I had no choice. “Don’t look back” I cried to Natalie, not so much for my dignity but to save my friend from the shock of seeing my doughy, pasty, white torso on the serene river as I removed my shirt. “I wasn’t going to” was her reply. In Natalie’s world stripping to save animals from hypothermia is never a possibility because precautions like hot water bottles and extra, dry blankets would have been packed in water-tight Ziploc bags.

Standing on the bright yellow board in my bra, my chalk coloured, winter skin almost fluorescent in the sunlight, I contemplated whether I could reasonably remove my pants to warm the poor, still shivering creature in front of me. I concluded that while the lifejacket would cover my nude mid section, I couldn’t expose the world to my discounted, moss green, lacy underwear which makes it appear as though my butt is growing lichens. Natalie and I continued to paddle for a bit, with Natalie shielding her eyes from the reflection of the sun flashing off my pure white arms. 

I don't bear any resemblance to Taylor Swift but my backend looks  exactly like this in my discounted underpants. (Photo Credit : www.mv.com)

I don’t bear any resemblance to Taylor Swift but my backend looks exactly like this in my discounted underpants. (Photo Credit : http://www.mv.com)

Arriving back at the dock with a dog is always a bit of a scene to begin with. Maddie dries herself by running back and forth and then stopping intermittently to give her little body a vigorous shake. Having just watched her shiver violently for almost an hour, I didn’t want to deprive her of this joy so I neglected to put her lead back on. So I dock, then off goes Maddie, freed from her floating fibre glass prison, my damp shirts trailing behind her, leaving me to attempt to help dock the paddleboard with a young ranger, my pasty muffin tops bulging out of the lifejacket as I scrunched myself up and scrambled on to the dock.

“I’m going to need some private naked time in your storage shed.” I said to the park ranger as I called Maddie out from behind the wall of lifejackets and oars.Trying to be discrete, despite the situation, I grabbed my shirt from where it had fallen on the dock and marched towards the open shed, with Maddie’s lead in the other hand. Natalie stood nearby, no doubt searching the crowd for a new friend.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of people who are detail oriented and thorough enough to carry out a hit without being caught or suspected in response to having their name published on the internet.

Letters From Exile: Biting Screeching Jet Lag

I’m writing this from exile. Roscoe told me not to come home until I am nice. Yesterday I traveled for sixteen hours. Ten of those hours were spent on a plane. My family’s nickname for me is “Bitey Scratchy” because I’ve been known to behave like a feral cat when I’m jet lagged.

To those of you who have never had the joy of taking in a wild animal, feral cats are nice sometimes, specifically when you are giving them things that they want like food, the rest of the time their hobbies consist of leaving puncture wounds in exposed skin and hissing.

Once when my father was away on a business trip I brought a feral cat into my parent’s house. It seemed like an excellent idea at the time. The cat was crotchety and disagreeable, I was crotchety and disagreeable. We were terrific roommates. And then my parents returned. And I left. The feral cat didn’t.

For the most part Oliver* is a good cat now. She only bites when she’s annoyed which is often but she lets out a low warning growl beforehand. And really she doesn’t bite very hard. Not that it matters, after the first couple of times the whole family got rabies shots.

Anyway, following spending an entire day in transit I behave like Oliver. To add insult to teeth imprinted injury, jet lag also seems to affect my thought patterns. I’ve spent the past two days wandering about pretending to be Andre Leon Talley**.

This is unnerving for two reasons. The first is that no matter how convincingly I stagger around screeching “There’s a FAMINE of beauty. A famine!” or talk about wearing my hand made underpants in Karl Lagerfeld’s vacation house, in no way do I resemble the 6’7 two hundred and fifty pound fashionista.

Andre Leon Talley

Try as I might no one has ever mistaken me for this man.  (Photo credit: Museum at FIT)

The second is that my parents have never heard of Andre Leon Talley so they become just a little more concerned with each successive impression. I overheard them talking about Bellevue in the living room and I don’t think they were discussing Diana’s old apartment in Kensington Village. Roscoe who has seen this behaviour in action told me that I’m to stay with my parents until I am normal(ish) again.

So effectively I’ve been exiled. It sounds worse than it really is ; they feed me well here although I do find my parent’s habit of wearing dog catcher’s body padding unnerving.

*Oliver is a girl cat. We like to do that here, give our girl pets boy’s names. There’s just not enough confusion in this world and one should always keep one’s vet on their toes. It’s not enough to simply throw your newly acquired feral cat into the room with an animal care professional and close the door, it’s really best to complicate things by saying “Oh our cat George had kittens last week.”

** Andre Leon Talley is one of the contributing editors to Vogue magazine. I adore watching and listening to him, the only thing larger than his body is his personality. He once filled an entire ballroom with one joke. When I grow up I am going to be Mr. Leon Talley. Or maybe not, because that might make Roscoe Anna Wintour, or would it make him Grace Coddington? Regardless, I don’t think Roscoe would like either of those options.

My 60,000 Dollar Cat Scratch

By my estimation, Roscoe and I have invested some sixty Gs in his medical education, most of the time I don’t see the benefit to this expenditure. As a med student he works long hours at the hospital for no pay, brings in loads of debt and when he has practical exams, insists on testing the range of motion in my knees. Not terribly exciting.

Around the beginning of his second year of med school Roscoe developed his “Doctor Voice”. It’s a very confident but stern sounding voice. Entirely different from his husband voice which is the one that tells me I look pretty and asks whether it’s past my bedtime.

See if you didn’t know the two of us, that last sentence would sound like a come on “That’s what SHE said”. I badly misused that saying, teenage boys everywhere are hanging their heads in shame at me.

Roscoe sometimes attempts to use his doctor voice at home, generally when he wants to prove that he’s right about something. “Put that away!” I’ll yell when I hear those soft but reassuring tones.

So a month or so ago I was running my first road race in three years, my first ten kilometer race in goodness knows how long. The event was in Toronto, so Roscoe and I were staying overnight at my parent’s house rather than driving the two plus hours from our home to the start.

Everything was going smoothly. Well for me at least. Some kids grew up with mothers who cut the crusts off their sandwiches, moms who dropped them off at university and then returned many, many times for visits, mums who really cared about important things like jewelry, and whether your purse matched your shoes.

My mother is a sports mom. She leaves crusts on sandwiches, she visited me once at university after dropping me off and I’ve frequently left the house wearing both stripes and floral print at the same time.

However come race day, get out of her way, she’s a tiger mom, up at five am with coffee and strategies for how to cut your time. She stashes extra safety pins for your bib in her coat and has water and chocolate milk sitting in the car to rehydrate. You’ll recognize her at the finish line because she’ll be the one jumping so high that she might as well be attached to a pogo stick.

So despite the fact that I didn’t train, had no idea where the race was, and had not packed the appropriate gear, I wasn’t terribly worried about the ten kilometer race I had to run the next day.

That was until I was mauled by a Bear.

I have a theory that my parent's cat is related to the Terminator, or some other alien robot being. It would explain her eyes when photographed.

I have a theory that my parent’s cat is related to the Terminator, or some other alien robot being. It would explain her eyes when photographed.

Bear is the newest addition to my parent’s house. She is the only cat they’ve ever had who has not lived with me. The cats that I grew up with understood that I moved like a Sherman tank, crushing everything in my path. They stayed out of my way, and I lived up to my end of the bargain by not being too upset when they loved my mother more than me.

Bear has never lived with me. Bear also moves like a Sherman tank. One with claws.

Which is how the night before my race I got these.

My photoshop instructions to Candy- "Make my foot look more like Charlize Theron's." Candy's reply "I don't know what to do with these instructions?"

My photoshop instructions to Candy- “Make my foot look more like Charlize Theron’s.” Candy’s reply “I don’t know what to do with this request?”

 

Essentially Bear and I played a very dangerous, painful and ultimately bloody, game of chicken.

Bear was racing up the stairs, across the landing and heading for my bedroom at top speed. Watching her shoot straight at me like some sort of ginger cheetah, I stood my ground. And Bear also stood her ground. Until at the last second we both moved the same direction. Which caused Bear to run half into the door frame, as she attempted to stop herself with her claws on my foot. I felt pain, heard a loud thud and watched a starry eyed Bear wobbly make her way under my bed.

“Bear!” I cried, “Bear! Come here, I’m sorry.” I pleaded bending down to lift up the bed skirt, the extent of my wounds disguised by my body’s beautiful shock reflex. Still woozy but expecting me to somehow cause her to run into more door frames Bear darted past me. And that’s when I looked down and realized blood was pooling on my foot.

Roscoe took one look at it and thought “Infection and cat scratch fever”. Immediately he put his doctor voice into action. Overwhelmed by my feelings of guilt and the blood about to stain my parent’s beige carpet, I blindly followed my husband into the kitchen. There he cleaned the lacerations and then set about neatly taping a napkin to my foot. Power gels are on my mother’s grocery list, not gauze. The gory blood now covered up and the new carpet no longer in danger I returned to my senses. “That doesn’t look dramatic enough! You need to wrap it!”

Roscoe stopped ripping the masking tape into neat sections and instead began haphazardly wrapping my foot with tape. “There” he said “happy now?”

“No, take a photo of it.”

The Great Unwashed way to dress a wound. Note how it makes use of none of Roscoe's doctor abilities.

The Great Unwashed way to dress a wound. Note how it makes use of none of Roscoe’s doctor abilities. My first opportunity to use Roscoe’s expensive degree and I didn’t take it.

For the record I ran a fifty-four minute ten km, for my American readers out there I ran a fifty four minute six mile race. Pretty good considering the perfectly straight blood stains I found in my sock afterwards.

I Really Need A New Hobby Aside From Cleaning Dead Animals On A Saturday Night

So I spent all of last Saturday night washing my childhood pet. This doesn’t sound like a lot of work but the pet in question was a cat who never really caught onto the whole “I am a cat and therefore have amazing balance skills and clean myself regularly” concept. In fact this cat was known for the number of things it could fall off of. Its lack of hygiene was never really a problem until my parent’s elderly cat died and Splat was left to fend for and clean himself.

Splat, judging by the unhappy look on his face, he fell off of something just before this photo was taken and is annoyed that there may be photographic evidence.

Splat, judging by the unhappy look on his face, he fell off of something just before this photo was taken and is annoyed that there may be photographic evidence.**

On top of having a fairly significant problem with dandruff Splat* also had a habit of finding giant dirt piles and rolling in them. He would then rub himself against the person nearest to him, effectively creating a cat-dirt version of a brass rubbing. You know where you lay paper against something really old and then take a metallic crayon to it? The result was like that only with more feline dander and small beetles. It was quite possibly the grossest thing next to discovering cat barf in your shoes after you’ve put them on. Eventually my parents were so disgusted with the state of Splat’s fur that they shipped him off to the groomers. To my knowledge Splat is the only cat to have ever endured a professional cleaning.

Anyway so last Saturday night I shampooed, then rinsed Splat’s coat, then shampooed again because of all the dander and grease.  It took a while; Splat was quite resistant to both the water and the soap. Of course he was also rather dirty.

The sense of exhaustion when I opened my eyes on Sunday morning was overwhelming but my first thought was “Well at least the cat is clean.” But that’s when I realized that the cat I had spent all night lathering, rinsing and repeating had been dead for a year. And I was annoyed. Not only because I was so tired from washing a dead cat all night but I didn’t even get to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Cursing both my poor sleep and my subconscious, who was responsible for the weird dream, I got up.

Fast forward a couple of hours, I’ve completed an exhausting ten km race in fifty minutes and am now sitting in my aunt’s kitchen at a family get together. If pressed I would say that hands down bathing the dead cat was more tiring than the race.

My Dad is standing at the counter loading up on potato salad. From across the room I loudly say “Dad, you didn’t notice all the work I did last night.”

Fair on the Yare - in the Stocks - geograph.or...

This girl neglected to say thank you for her delicious lunch of a ham sandwich with the crusts cut off.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Dad stops mid scoop, having lived in a house full of three women for twenty some odd years he knows that forgetting to notice and thank someone for housework is right up there with high treason. Very slowly he turns to face me, fully expecting to be chastised for not appreciating the clean kitchen/ laundry/ basement, in front of our whole family to boot.

“I was up all night cleaning our dead cat. I shampooed his coat.”

My Dad started to laugh and went back to scooping salad onto his plate. I know one thing’s for sure, that is the last time I stay up all night shampooing beloved, deceased pets. Neither of my parents bothered to thank me for my efforts.

*Names have not been changed because the late cat in question always liked my mother better than me to begin with.

** Special thanks to my Dad who looked through all our family photos to find one of Splat and then sent it to me, on very short notice, because that’s who I am.