Monday, May 31, 2010

Besieged by Cats

It is Memorial Day weekend and I am cat sitting. John and Cynthia went up to her parents' lake house and I look in on Fatima, the world's most beautiful long haired tabby. I am also in charge of Dupree, the world's most spoiled long haired black cat. In fact both of these cats are indulged and used to a lot of attention along with their food. Dupree is one of those cats which turns its nose up at its food because I think he expects pheasant under glass.

Fatima is not a food snob, bur she has a mind of her own. I went over yesterday afternoon to put her inside for the evening. She's a wonderful cat to pet, being soft as down and patient with adoration. When I left, she decided that she wanted to go back outside. I went back about two hours later to put her in for the night. As soon as I got out of my car, a hot air balloon overhead let out one of those loud blasts of hot air, so if she had been close by, that would probably have sent her flying. I called, whistled and made those cat call noises, but to no avail. I hated to leave her out all night - when Cynthia is home, Fatima often stays out all night, but this was different. What if she got catnapped? I left, hoping she would be all right. I went back early this morning and called and whistled (she likes to whistled for) and she finally showed up from somewhere. When she went in, she gobbled up her food like a starving alley cat.

Dupree refused to eat what I fed him, but I would not open another can, unlike his owner. He eventually gave in, but only after going in and out about 5 times. I think he believes that if he goes out, the food in his dish will miraculously change into something better (and when John is home, it usually does). He finally gave up and ate the stuff grudgingly.

Now these two pampered pets don't know when they have it good. There are two semi-strays lurking about . Sateen, a beautiful satiny black tom cat has been hanging around for about three years now. The woman next door feeds him and has a shelter for him. She can't take him in because she has a bunch of old indoor cats, and he also sprays. I can't take him in because Dupree and he hate each other, and I don't need another cat. He is very affectionate, but he drools.

The other cat, Herman, I have written about
before. His situation has worsened. The people he putatively belongs to have gotten a divorce. One reason he started coming over here is that the people got a third put bull. This is not a pit bull neighborhood. After they separated, the guy stayed in the house until recently, but he totally neglected Herman. Then the worse thing is that he moved out and left Herman behind! I could not believe anyone would do that to a pet. At least he didn't leave the damn put bulls behind. Herman is very loving, a real people cat that is, the kind of people who do not abandon pets. Again, I cannot take him in , even though he has hung around here for so long that Dupee accepts him, more or less. However, he is the kind of cat that triggers my allergies. While the daughters were here, and I was in the rehab place, they let him in at night and let him sleep in their beds. Geez! That was before the jerk moved out and left him. And I came home to have two grown women pleading with me to adopt him, like kids begging for a pet. Not gonna happen.

The only hope for Herman is a neighbor whose wife died a few months ago. He has always loved cats, and our cats over the years have dropped in to visit him occasionally. He has taken a liking to Herman and is feeding him. I think he finds comfort and companionship with Herman. We are hoping for both their sakes that Herman ends up with him.

If one has to have strays in the neighborhood, it is better that they are cats rather than iguanas 0r boas.

So every day I remind Dupree how good he has it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nit picker

The late, great Phil Hartman once did a sketch on SNL called "Cooking With the Anal Retentive Chef " (you'll have to watch a short beer commercial) which is one of my all time favorite comedy bits. I found myself in the same situation yesterday. I had a project which necessitated getting back to my drawing table. That room has been for weeks a guest room for my dear daughter Polly while she was here. Once the futon is out, the guest has barely enough room to move, much less store any excess baggage. The drawing table therefore becomes a necessary repository for "stuff" which the guest needs during her stay (which was not nearly long enough if you ask me.) As a result, the drawing table, once the guest had departed (much too soon) was a bit of a mess.

What with the broken hip and all, the table had been neglected as a drawing table for at least two months. So my first order of business, before I could get started on my project, was to give the table a thorough cleaning. There were also a few odd objects which had found their way onto the table, so I had to sort through those and find a proper place for them (A place for everything and everything in its place.) This led me to another room, where I found it necessary to run a dust cloth over a couple of shelves before I could put said objects in that proper place.

That done, I returned to the table. I found some photos tucked between my pencil sharpener and my desk thingy where I keep pencils, brushes, erasers, etc. Now where did they belong? I found an envelope full of photos on one of my bookshelves and had to sit down and look at them: Emily, Chris and the kids in Provincetown visiting Polly, my niece Margaret Ann's wedding (20 years ago?), my siblings and I at Michael's lake house for a reunion - fond memories! I decided that sorting through these would take too much time and put them all in the same envelope, an act which did create some discomfort.

When I had the table top clean, as long as I had the 409 handy, I decided to clean a molded tray containing a LOT of stuff - pens, markers, more erasers, a scraper thing that I use to clean my palette and a packet of single edge razors that go into it (one at a time, of course). I had to test the pens and markers to see which ones still worked, of course. Once I had thrown away the bad ones, I decided to move some of the tray stuff to my taboret. When I opened the top drawer, I saw that I needed to get rid of some of the clutter, like dozens of other people's business cards - artists, publishers, storytellers, etc. Of course I had to read each one and make a decision before dumping it. Who were those people and how did I end up with their cards? Then I reorganized the entire drawer, of course.

I have some glass knick knacks - a prism, a crystal Swedish bird, a French crystal egg and a cicada from Provence on the table for the sun to shine through and they needed a little Windex to cheer them up, so I fetched that and polished those ojets d'art, and as long as I had the Windex, I decided to clean some framed pictures, too, which were in another room. That reminded me that I had promised Sally that I would fix the frame of "The Girl With The Pearl Earring," not the original but a copy I had painted a few years ago. I am giving it to her because it's her favorite paining and the book and the movie about it are much loved by her. So I had to dig up some small nails and the tack hammer and got that job done in no time. As long as I had the hammer and some nails, I decided to bang one into the window frame so that I could hang the antenna for my little wee TV which I like to put on my table and watch when I am working.
It was afternoon by this time, too late to start what I meant to do in the first place. Am I anal retentive? I dunno. But I have a clean table for when I actually get down to work on my project.

My two far away daughters were home in May and both left last week and the house is empty. It was lovely to have all four kinder in one place at the same time. It doesn't happen often, so it was a real treat, and we had a great time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May and Remembrance

This is the month when northeastern Ohio turns brilliant green. It's a beautiful time of year, especially when we've had one of those really bad winters with too much snow and too much grayness.

Here in Kent it's also a time when we remember the tragedy that hit this place in 1970. There was all this beauty in the town and on the campus: the flowering crab apple trees lining my street in full bloom, lilac bushes sending out that sweet scent of spring, golden dandelions sprinkled through the new grass. And then there was gunfire on the campus and four young lives were snuffed out and nine other students were wounded, their lives changed drastically. It was a terrible time for the university and the community, which divided us all for years. The university's response was craven: there was no expression of outrage that these students were shot on their own campus, rather a rush to "put this behind us and move on.". The community's response was outrageous: "they should have shot more of them,they brought it on themselves."

I don't want to over simplify the complexity of the events that led up to the shootings, but I found the response to the deaths of those children hard to deal with in the months and years that followed.

This year we observed the 40th anniversary of what happened on that beautiful spring day. The ground on which the confrontation took place between unarmed students and the armed National Guard (most of whom were the same ages ad the students) has now been designated a National Historic Site. The living parents of the four dead students attended and spoke about their struggle to heal. Several of the wounded students spoke, as did a number of national figures I didn't go up to the Commons for the ceremony because I don't think I could do that much walking yet, and I have been to many of them over the past 40 years. Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Peter, Paul and May, Jane Fonda (in her post-Barbarella and pre-Feel the Burn incarnation) are only a few of the celebrities who have appeared over the years on the Commons to help us observe this event.

It is always a sad occasion in the midst of the blooming of the green, green spring. I was asked recently what I think we have learned from this. My answer was, "Nothing, apparently."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blowing My Own Horn

Some unsolicited comments about "May: A New England Childhood." (You may pick up that one of them is from a relative.)

"I received my copy of your book .... love it! I couldn't be more pleased! Congratulations on publishing a beautiful book -- you are very talented!"

"I looked through it last night and will have to make 16 more passes through the book to get every last detail. I LLLLLOOOVVVVVVEEEEE the very last page sentiment (won't spoil it for those who haven't read it.)
What I am particularly enjoying is the detail in the painting and how your mom captures all different sorts of surfaces, textures, the details she chose to put in, the difficulty in drawing the porch railings.... the effort and intense amount of great talent that went into each illustration is really breathtaking. It is an Opus."

"I received my copy of your book yesterday and I love it! I was telling Mom and Jane I can almost hear grandmother talking - great job! Thank-you so much for doing this- the book is something I will treasure. I love your illustrations and it is so much fun to try to picture what life was like for grandmother.

I think it would make a fine Mother's Day gift.