Nimoy is MIA

A little over a week ago we had a mishap. It started innocently enough, The Girl went Pokemon Go -ing (I assume I’m allowed to make that a verb by now) and took a gym. I know, who cares? Well, she took the gym from a pair of 13-year-old boys, who turned around and took it back – killing her Pokemon in the process. This shouldn’t matter. She’s five years older, and more mature anyway. But it’s apparently a Pokemon thing, so it mattered. She went back out right after coming home and retook the gym again, killing the offending Pokemon in return. Whatever. The same scenario repeated with another trainer The Girl didn’t have anything strong enough to take on the next day and she lost. So the following day, last Tuesday, when she went out Pokemon-ing, she put a harness on Nimoy (who is getting a little chubby and could use the exercise the game is designed for) and took her kitten for a walk. I gather she decided she needed moral support for her venture this time.

Nimoy is not nearly as enamored with Pokemon Go as The Girl is, let’s just get that little factoid out in the open right up front. Neither is Jingles, but Jingles is an active cat, so The Girl doesn’t feel the need to take her for walks to enforce an exercise regime on her. Also, Jingles dislikes her harness and leash, but long ago learned there was little point to fighting it. Nimoy isn’t that smart.

I’m going to take a moment to enlighten non-cat owners on the subject of cats and leashes. Yes, you can walk a cat on a leash. Unless you train them to accept this form of torture from kittenhood – early kittenhood – it’s more trouble than it’s worth. You also can’t just clip a leash on a collar, they’ll squirm right out of it and take off like a bat out of hell. No, you have to get a harness, like for ferrets. And it may seem cruel, but cinch that harness down pretty snug because cats are slightly more slippery than most people give them credit for. Even the extra furry ones.

The first time you put a harness on a cat/kitten, they tend to fall over as if you’ve just broken their back. Honestly, a harness doesn’t weigh eight hundred pounds, but you’d never know by watching a cat. Don’t cave in. If you take the harness off, they win. If you  walk away and leave them lying there, (view it as a sort of work-in-progress of “Beaten Cat Performance Art”) eventually they get tired of not having an audience and low crawl away. Also, cats have fairly short attention spans and – hey, there was that speck of dust that floated by….

The point is that they’ll get used to the harness. Then you’ll repeat the process when you add the leash. Then start over again when you’re holding one end of the leash. The look of indignation on Jingle’s face when she realized we expected to lead was priceless. We’ve since learned our lesson. She leads and we just sort of stop following if we disagree with her chosen direction. We stand there while she tugs on the leash and allow her to change her mind then resume following her in our acceptably submissive manner.

Nimoy was a whole other matter. The Girl was still doing the “gently tugging her along” thing. Most of Nimoy’s experience with her harness and leash wasn’t for going for walks, it was to allow The Girl (occasionally me or Hubby) to hold her with confidence she wouldn’t run off. I suspect, since Nimoy doesn’t actually care for being outside, that it was more of a comfort for her than us – you know, that we wouldn’t run off because she was attached to us. At least I always suspected that was how Nimoy saw it. It was her security blanket. Leave it to The Girl to prove me wrong.

So The Girl and idiot cat went for a walk. We got a frantic call that the cat slipped her harness and disappeared. Why? Was she scared off by a virtual Pokemon? It wouldn’t have surprised me, but no. It was the garbage truck. Something any of us should have been able to predict. Great. The cat wasn’t the idiot this time around, it was us.

The scene of the crime was only a couple of streets over, so Hubby made The Boy put actual clothes back on. (The Boy comes home from school and get straight into an old t-shirt and threadbare sweats from maybe five years ago because they’re comfy. They’re also rags and he’s not allowed to leave the house in them.) Hubby drove around, The Boy and Girl walked opposite directions, and I circled our cul-de-sac, all calling for Nimoy. I caught every neighbor. The Girl caught Jingles. The Boy caught a bad attitude, which caught Hubby’s attention. No one caught Nimoy.

Side note: since she was wearing a harness, she wasn’t wearing her collar. I assumed she was chipped, but after checking two days later at the animal shelter, they looked up her file and told me she wasn’t. How they managed to charge me for every other imaginable thing on a two-page long checklist and miss that is beyond me, but there you have it. The Girl began to panic in earnest at that point and printed out pictures of her generic tabby. Now her walks are to make sure signs are still up. I can see this going well.

nimoy

Here’s a picture of a cat with no distinctive markings. She’s a really fluffy tabby that doesn’t answer to anything in particular, although we like to call her Nimoy. Hobbies include eating, sleeping all day, unrolling balls of yarn, and walking across your face at 3 am. Also, she’s paranoid about bath tubs but jumps in the toilet, and doesn’t get along with other cats or kids. Don’t try to adopt her because she’s litter-box trained in theory, but occasionally misses. She’s not graceful, so if a cat meeting this rough description falls off your car, fence, or roof, it’s probably ours and most of the house would like her back.

 

 

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Midnight Madness

Let me tell you about Friday morning. Hubby wakes at midnight after hearing a crash. I sleep with earplugs, and a face-mask softly blowing air at me, so I don’t hear anything, including him jumping out of bed like I did something obscene to him.

He quietly listens to the house for signs of trouble or an intruder. Nothing.

Nimoy is immediately suspect, but she’s groggily looking at him from her place between our knees. For the moment, the kitten is off the hook.

Analyzing his memory of the sound, he thinks it sounds like glass breaking plus something else. Some sort of impact. And he can’t tell if it came from inside or outside. It’s a beautiful and cool night so our bedroom windows are open. He looks and doesn’t see anything.

Getting what passes for dressed at midnight, Hubby checks on both kids, they’re asleep. Jingles is awake but on the foot of The Girl’s bed where she frequently is when home at night. She always wakes when we check on the kids.

He wanders the house: checking all windows, doors, and closets – just because. Nothing.

Hubby goes outside and walks around the house. Nothing. He looks over neighbor’s fences – nothing.

Giving it up as a hallucination, Hubby comes back to bed.

Fast forward to four in the morning. The Boy tiptoes into our room, wakes Hubby, and informs him of some problem. He sits up.

Now I didn’t wake before with all Hubby’s activity, but the Motherhood-sense that something is amiss jars me fully awake. We follow The Boy back to his room. He woke to play an early round of video gaming with friends and discovered the splintered shards of a Corelle plate scattered about his room. They’re tough table settings, but when they do break, it’s like a war zone.

Hubby recognized the incident immediately. When he checked on The Boy, he left the bedroom and hall light off, and had to walk in to the darkened room to make sure the lanky teen was in fact in his bed. He’s so skinny he kind of blends into the sheets and pillows. It’s a miracle Hubby didn’t step on any of the microscopic (or larger) glass shards between the door and the bed.

So we figured Jingles, who likes to sleep on The Boy’s top bunk – in fact it’s hers, must have either used the freestanding shelves that are part of The Boy’s desk to jump to or from her top bunk perch and knocked the plate off that The Boy shouldn’t have had in there in the first place and it broke upon hitting the main desk surface in almost the exact center of the room. Thankfully the plate was empty. Unfortunately he had a box fan on in his corner so the smaller particles got widely distributed. I found tiny bits of Corelle from the wall behind his door to his closet doors, bed to the bookshelves under his window – in short, everywhere.

Yes, I vacuumed my son’s room at four am. Then he got out an edge vacuum and crawled around on his knees to cover the perimeter of the room. Hubby collected the big pieces, then had a handheld vacuum and sucked sparkling Corelle confetti from The Boy’s keyboard and behind his monitors. Thanks to the fan for that one we think.

The Boy really likes darkness when he sleeps, so he has a blanket hung from the top bunk to seal in his bottom bunk. We had to vacuum that then pull it down, but it meant his bed was protected. Like it matters, I need to change his sheets anyway.

Meanwhile The Girl gets up to see what all the activity is about. She insists it couldn’t have been Jingles (still snuggled at the foot of her bed) because she’d been in her room all night. Ah hem, not all night. No, Jingles started with The Boy. We guessed the broken plate startled the cat and she took off for safer sleeping places.

The really interesting part is the breaking plate woke Hubby, two rooms away with a gentle breeze upsetting our blinds and faint noises of the neighborhood outside to provide ambient cover, but failed to wake The Boy sleeping four feet away. It’s not surprising, the kid can sleep through anything (fire alarm going off two feet from his head when he was little and had the top bunk – not kidding; plus his alarm clock every single school day) but it is interesting. It means I’m going to have to continue getting him up for school this year. Oh, goodie.

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Halp! I Can’t Sleep!

Let us skip back in time a bit, to when I made the mistake of mentioning to my Neurologist Physician’s Assistant on a routine checkup that I’d been feeling fatigued for some time. I wasn’t worried about it, between my Multiple Sclerosis and all the drugs I’m taking for one thing or another because of my Multiple Sclerosis, the cause of the fatigue didn’t seem like a big mystery. It was just annoying and I would prefer it gone. Walk up the stairs, have to rest for an hour, down the stairs, rest for an hour, do the dishes – that wiped me out for a couple hours. A doctor’s appointment? Crap, Hubby has to help me up the stairs and I’m useless the rest of the day. Just fix it!

Sleep study.

What? No! I sleep.

Yeah. Apparently I don’t do it right. I’ve been doing it all my life – almost every night in fact. But I don’t do it right. Really? I used to be able to sleep off anything. It amazed Hubby when we got married. We both get a cold. I sleep for twelve hours straight – cured. He suffered for two more days. Life turns to crap – I sleep for extra few hours for a few days, shrug it off. He takes anti depressants. Of course now we know I have an immune system that can kick anything’s butt and I’m not prone to chronic or serious depression, but it seemed like sleep was my cure-all at the time. Shows you the power of circumstantial evidence.

Anyway, so they decide on the fall-back diagnosis of sleep apnea. Really? I sort of suspect they decide that when they can’t figure out what else it is. Hubby has sleep apnea. I hear him stop breathing and kick him. He listened to me when we were trying to figure out if I simply wasn’t getting a restful night’s sleep and didn’t notice anything. He’s an insomniac so staying up to listen to be breathe wasn’t much of a hardship. I also don’t snore often, so it wasn’t that. The diagnosis took both of us by surprise.

Fine. So I got a stupid little machine that everyone promised would fix everything. This is the part where my life went to hell.

First, let me say I went through this vicariously with Hubby. He confirmed that he did get more restful sleep with his little machine. He also warned it would take getting used to. A week or maybe two. Second, insurance wants to make sure I give the devil’s own instrument of torture a fair shake because they made me sign a contract in blood. Okay ink. I have to sleep at least four hours every night, at least 80% of the days each month for three months, plus I have to have follow-up doctor appoint regarding the machine from hell, plus I have to follow the doctor’s and manufacturer’s directions on device. Failure to comply means I will be billed for the entire setup.

Okay then. I should mention this thing has a cellular connection, and I have a good signal in my bedroom from Verizon Wireless, so I assume they’re getting feedback on everything I do with this stupid thing. I don’t know what network it’s connected to, but if Verizon has a signal here, I’m confident AT&T does as well. Damn it. I should also mention this thing has sensors so just wearing it doesn’t count. It knows when I’m asleep and adjusts the airflow accordingly. Nice and soft when I’m awake and trying to fall asleep, then it ramps up to a ‘smack me in the face’ level where I wake up with the immediate impression I’ve stumbled into a tornado.

Sometimes I do the insomnia thing and I stay up most of the night writing or whatever. When I’m tired, however, I can normally lie down, close my eyes, and be asleep in twenty minutes. Hubby is irritated and jealous. I can sleep for eight hours. Longer if I’m not feeling well. If I’m hurting, my body recognizes I’d rather not be awake just now and so I’m not.

Fine, so I have an evil machine by my bed. Hubby too, but he doesn’t count. Let me explain.

Nimoy sleeps with Hubby and I more often than her girl, which is annoying because we got Nimoy for The Girl! Jingles tends to favor The Boy, and The Girl really wanted a cat of her own. So I got a cat. The Girl is seriously doubting her future as a crazy cat lady.

When sleeping with me, Nimoy tended to prefer my pillow. She’d stretch out above my head and proceed to radiate heat so I woke up with my head sweating and itchy. Isn’t that sweet? Add face mask attached to by nightstand by a big tube and a steady stream of air blowing out the little holes toward wherever I faced. Nimoy wasn’t happy about the change, but she shifted her spot and dealt with it. Now she sleeps on a pillow between Hubby and I, stretches out sideways and tries to push us both off the bed.

Jingles is another matter. When she’s in, she likes to come up and sleep on “her” pillow, positioned between mine and the edge of the bed, held in place by the nightstand, and have a short cat nap/mom time before waking me and asking to be let out. The anti-apnea contraption does not please her.

I made sure the tube ran under her pillow, acknowledging in advance my little black cat wouldn’t care to sleep with it. That wasn’t enough. She doesn’t like face-huggers on my face in the night.

I should point out that the cats have seen Alien. The entire series. I know this because The Boy has a video game based on it and watched the whole series with Hubby and I not long ago. He’s also watched the first two on his own a few times. Jingles knows what an alien face-hugger is, and was deeply disturbed to find me with one.

Her answer to the alien menace? Get it off mom!

Yes, I woke at an unpleasant hour one morning to find Jingles stretched out on my pillow above me in Nimoy’s place. She had her back feet planted against my annoying mask and was pushing it off my face!

On one hand, smart cat. On the other hand, it was really annoying.

I reached over and turned the little machine off, and removed the mask. Mission accomplished, Jingles requested I let her outside. I was up anyway, so I complied.

She didn’t come in the next night, but the night after she was back (rain does that) and I woke again to the same mask-attack from my cat. Reluctant to ‘reward’ her behavior this time, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.

I should mention since wearing the stupid little mask that is supposed to help me sleep better, it now takes upwards of an hour for me to fall asleep, I don’t stay asleep, and I feel less rested when I get up. This is contrary to what everyone assured me. So when Jingles started waking me early, I was understandably annoyed. I couldn’t always just remove the mask because that would provide the wrong feedback for the cat. It’s a “who’s training who?” situation. Also, I have to get four hours of sleep registered on the little machine, and that’s hard sometimes. It’s never in a solid block so I’m grateful that wasn’t a requirement. I can’t just get up, I have to go back to sleep and try to get another hour of actual sleep per my insurance company.

Rolling over didn’t phase Jingles. Now I was in reach of her front paws. After being whapped in the face a few times as she explored the gadget, she sunk her claws into the straps and pulled.

Are you kidding me?

Get up, turn the machine off, take the mask off, let the cat out.

We used to sleep with our door closed to keep Jingles from beating up Nimoy in the middle of the night. As it turns out, a cat fight on your bed at 3am is also disruptive to a decent night’s sleep. Huh. But Nimoy and Jingles have been doing much better and we’re able to leave our door open to let them roam. This is partially in the hope Nimoy will return to The Girl’s room. (She used to start there – with the door closed to keep her in – then around 1am she’d wake up The Girl, drive her batty, and my darling daughter would take her in and dump her cat with us and close her in.) Nimoy hadn’t been sleeping with her girl, but there’s always hope.

Hope is dashed. Nimoy will have to just sleep with us because I’m not leaving the door open for Jingles. Not if she’s going to attack my sleeping accessories in the wee morning hours.

And what has Nimoy been doing while I fend off her dark companion? She snuggles closer to Hubby and doesn’t even wake up. The whole mess is beneath her notice.

Bratty cats.

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Reading, Writing, Lack Of Editing

Amazon Prime Day. Wow. Great way to separate me from my money guys, thanks. I think. Among the things I purchased that I didn’t need was something that I probably should have done a long time ago: Kindle Unlimited.

Yeah. Let me tell you how it’s gone so far. On Saturday, I read four books. I didn’t do anything else, and my family didn’t seem to miss me. That should be a concern, but hey, the kids are teenagers and live in their own worlds and Hubby knows I check out from time to time and allows it to a certain extent.

On Sunday, I read two books, felt guilty for ignoring my family, and Netflixed an entire season of The Last Kingdom with The Girl as penance. That was not exactly quality time, but I listened to her chatter, responded when appropriate, and didn’t pull my hair out. I also felt jittery, like I’d had too much coffee. In retrospect, it might have been the Swedish Fish & Monster Java combo I used to get me through the last couple of episodes.

Somewhere around 2 am, while watching Richard Hammond’s Crash Course on Amazon Prime Video with Hubby (my long-time insomniac), I realized why I was bothered by reading so many books lately.

First, I’ve always said writer’s block isn’t a problem for me, and that’s true. If I sit down to write, I can. Not always on what I want to write, what I might need to make progress on or finish, but I can write something. It’s why I frequently have multiple works in progress at a time, and why any given book is almost always written out of order. In other words, I don’t write chapter 1,2,3,4, etc. It goes more along the lines of chapter 12,1,4,6,9,3,2, etc. I think I sat down and wrote two books beginning to end in order. Neither are published yet. (A’gust and it’s sequel if you’re wondering. Both are sequels, more or less, to Chrysanthemum.)

Anyway, while writer’s block may not be a problem, progress is. And I wanted to have Desperate Wishes finished and published by now. I should have. At the rate I usually write and where I was in the manuscript, there wasn’t any reason for that not to have happened. I forgot to factor in teenagers, and then the lasting impact of dealing with them. Or the spectacular crash of my computer and loss of quite a bit of material on two of three projects – didn’t count on that either. So taking time out to read, or work on the two other projects on my desktop, makes me feel a little guilty. Guilt isn’t exactly productive.

The other thing about reading those book was that, while the authors wrote good stories, one of them clearly didn’t hire a good editor. Another didn’t hire an editor at all and I suspect didn’t do well in high school English. I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she graduated, but my good will only goes that far.

Nimoy was snuggled up with me all day on Saturday and she noticed my displeasure at the editing dramas unfolding before me in digital black and white (stretch, yawn, baleful glare, shift away so her back was to me, then fall back asleep in clear disdain). See? Failing to have even a half-decent editor glance at your book affects a lot of people and felines. It’s hellish.

Second, while I appreciated the good books I came across, I’m going to ignore them. Sorry, they’re just not important for rant purposes, although I will review all of the books on Amazon and maybe Goodreads later. (I don’t use my name, you don’t get to see the trash I read.)

Where was I? Oh, the good story but bad writing – sigh. It wasn’t even bad writing. I’ll let style issues go nine times out of ten because style is a matter of personal preference and I realize – as an adult and a writer – that people prefer certain things. I can’t read Charlaine Harris’ books. I loved the True Blood series on HBO and people kept telling me to read the books, but I can’t. Her style makes me want to slit my wrists. Obviously she’s a successful writer and her style appeals to, or at least doesn’t bother, most people. My problem is just that – my problem.

If it’s not a matter of style, but poor grammar, editing, writing, and execution, where does that leave me? Leaving a bad review. Or a mediocre one, the story underneath was good.

Again with something that is clearly my problem, I don’t like leaving bad reviews on good stories. Particularly when the review ends up being actually more of a critique. The author can read the review, fix it, upload a new version of the book, and eventually my review will be buried and fall off per Amazon’s new policies. Assuming the author is willing to do that, and take my advice in the future.

It does remind me of where I came from, however, and that is Book Country. Once upon a time, a literary agent named Collen Lindsay went to work for Penguin (Random House) Books, and they launched an online service for potential authors. Writers could upload their manuscripts for other writers to read and critique, allowing them to improve and get useful feedback about plot, structure, grammar, style, voice, etc before submitting it to a literary agent or publishing it themselves. This isn’t a new idea, and it wasn’t new then either. There were, and are, several sites like this out there. I happened to be part of this one since the beta stage, along with a few other people who have also since published.

For me, it came to a point where I wasn’t getting anything new and useful in feedback. Also, I was stuck in a series where if you hadn’t read the previous books, the character development was missing. So I stopped posting, but I still continued to go back and critique, and I followed the discussion boards, and then…I faded away and got lost in my own things.

Apparently my account is still active. Hmm. So I’m thinking, there are authors out there publishing without editing and they need to be slapped. Amazon reviews will do that to a point, Goodreads too. But I can at least drop in on bookcountry.com and maybe give a nudge to the writers who are just starting out.

Apparently Nimoy approves, she just bit me softly then started purring.

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My Writing Rode Off

I’m a writer. We’ve been over this before, it’s not news. For most of the last school year (August – June) my writing has been spotty. This can be attributed to having to hover over The Boy for him to get his schoolwork done. After doing that, I had little left in me for writing. Bits here and there, and that adds up, but generally unimpressive progress. Or so I thought.

My year-old Lenovo ultra thin laptop kicked it. That was unexpected. So unexpected I hadn’t been backing everything up in my typical paranoid-writer fashion like usual. I hadn’t uploaded copies of my Scrivener files to Dropbox in months. (Yes, I write in Scrivener. It’s a great program.)

Okay, fine, deep breath, hand it to Hubby and let him work on it. He’s already building a gaming computer with The Boy (from scratch, this is a learning experience for the kid and a father-son bonding thing), but hey, he can give my meltdown a once over. Then again. Yeah, it’s going to take some work and probably have to replace the hard drive.

Luckily I have my old computer, the reliable Dell, still at hand. It powered up, and sat on my lap like an old friend. And put my feet to sleep because it weighs a ton. Forgot about that. Not the Dell’s fault, this laptop is big on purpose. It has a full keyboard plus a number pad like the old desktop keyboards used to, a 17” screen, and two hard drives. Everything considered, it’s allowed to be a little bulky.

Unfortunately Mr. Reliable Dell hadn’t been turned on in a while and updates took all day because my power save settings were not prepared for doing updates. It kept going to sleep. Sigh. Solution? Take the laptop into the kitchen with me. Start making dinner, brush the mouse pad, get out a pan, brush the mouse pad, freezer, mouse pad, get milk, mouse pad, put away milk, mouse pad, etc… I watched update number 121 sit there for five hours. I’d love to know what that was, then bitch-slap Microsoft for it, whatever it is.

Yay, all updated! No. Restart computer, now Adobe wants to update everything, then Java. OMG, kill me. Restart again. Everything is peaceful. Go to Dropbox, get back up files – things quickly stopped being peaceful. Mommy turned psychotic.

I have two active works in progress that I’ve worked on depending on my mood. No, this is not the most efficient way to finish a book, but it works. It works really well if you’re having “I can’t think of what to write” issues because it gives you a broader range of options to try to find that Muse. (Mine plays hide-and-seek in future chapters of a book I’m trying to ignore in favor of finishing something else. Muses are like that.)

Anyway, neither book had been backed up recently, so I went to review what I’d lost. Quite a bit more than expected. A lot more than expected, on both of them. I didn’t think I’d been writing that much, but I was wrong. (Mystery solved two days ago when I sat down and wrote 5,600 words in three hours.) Months of a little here and there was tens of thousands of words. Sigh. And I’d completely rewritten the first two chapters of Desperate Wishes (which I’d hoped to have out by now) and that was gone too. My character list for the experimental sci-fi was gone, along with several chapters. Since I frequently don’t outline, or it’s incredibly general when I do, I don’t even really remember exactly what was in those chapters. I had a character dedicated to … something … and something else came up. Ah, hell.

The lesson here boys and girls: back up your writing regularly. Also, not on the same computer you’re writing on. That goes without saying. No help for those writing in a notebook like my brother. Nut.

So, I’m in a particularly bad mood, but I’m trying to catch up and recreating lost work isn’t necessarily bad, just annoying. The kids are largely avoiding me. Nimoy is my steady companion, napping beside me most of the day and wreaking havoc on the house at night. Jingles seems to understand there’s something ‘off’ about Mom, and she’s been inside a bit more and very lovey. It’s almost disconcerting. She’s also once again running up and down the stairs, making the one bell on her collar jingle wildly. I think it’s to remind us she’s there.

A reminder for anyone who doesn’t remember how Jingles got her name: As a kitten she jingled her bells about the house everywhere she went. It was cute in a way, but she’s a black cat and even as a kitten there seemed to be a sinister edge to it. Does anyone remember It’s a Wonderful Life? That old James Stewart movie? They douse us with it every Christmas. Anyway, one of the things from that movie that stands out is the line: Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. So Jingles was giving angels wings. Yeah, there can’t be that many wingless angels, however. Follow me on this. If she’s giving angels wings, but there aren’t enough angels that need wings, then that means she’s creating angels to wing them. Um…which means she’s wiping out small rural villages in third world countries every time she runs down the stairs. Jingle, jingle, jingle… Oh. Hence Darth Jingles. And she’s at it again.

Maybe she gave wings to the Lenovo.

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The Bromeliad – Sock Debacle

It’s a hellish day and I’m getting little done. The Boy is off at a friend’s house playing marathon games of something and being virtually violent and mischievous. Good for him that it’s somewhere else. The Girl left this morning on her first adult adventure, aside from her first job which she now believes is the worst job on earth. Not really, there are lower paying jobs out there that expect you to do even worse things, but hers is menial with inconsistent hours, no benefits, minimum wage, and management sucks. It’s a good first job because she can only go up from there.

Anyway, The Girl soaked her tiny bromeliad before she left and put it in my bathroom window where it would get filtered sun and would dry slowly so it wouldn’t get root rot. She’s trying to be a good mommy to her little bromeliad. Except she hasn’t been a good mommy to Nimoy, who in a fit of jealousy as soon as The Girl left, absconded with her rival. I noticed quickly (thankfully) because the cat doesn’t normally run through the house carrying something green and spiny.

First, let me say I’m really too old to chase a cat. Cat herding is an idiom, not an actual occupation, and I would suck at it if it were real. Second, let me remind you that this particular cat is an idiot. Once she realized Grandma was chasing her, and unhappy, she doubled back and ran under The Girl’s bed. Okay, she’s cornered. Except I don’t have any kids in the house who can crawl under the bed and won’t for hours to days. I have no idea when The Boy will decide to come home, (It’s a weekend, in the summer.) and The Girl won’t be home until late Tuesday night. I have a responsibility to that bromeliad. Maybe the cat. I’m not sure how Nimoy will fare if she eats the bromeliad.

We have a supply of those stupid grabber sticks that my mother-in-law uses to pick up things that fall on the floor. In theory they’re supposed to be used to grab things that are out of reach on shelves, but they don’t really support any weight and are useless for that. Anyway, the grandkids always play with hers, and break them, so Hubby saw some and bought twenty so we always have one in the car when we go visit for family gatherings to replace the broken one. They can’t keep extras at their house or the grandkids would break them too. Personally, I vote break the grandkids, but Hubby tells me I don’t get a vote and his sisters agreed after hearing their precious babies might be disciplined for something. For once, I needed one of the gadgets.

So I lay on the floor for a half an hour pulling things out from under The Girl’s bed. Now in fairness I should say The Girl’s room is generally the tidiest in the house. Her OCD is phenomenal. Nimoy, however, prefers her bed to hide socks under, and I was discovering why The Boy seemed to be wearing the same socks for days on end. I thought it was my imagination, or that maybe he really did have more pairs with that odd pattern than I thought; but no, he’s apparently running low and didn’t feel the need to tell anyone. Nimoy likes The Boy’s socks best. I can sort of understand that, the cat has a thing for smells, and The Boy’s socks … you can see where I’m going with this. No excuses anymore, not that he offered any, The Boy will start changing his socks again!

That was the beginning of my Saturday morning.

Finished with the bromeliad-sock debacle (the bromeliad was finally retrieved, clinging to a sock, looking none the worse for wear, and placed in a slightly safer place to get a little filtered sunlight, don’t worry about it) I turned my attention to lunch. Except now Hubby was missing. Huh. I looked around, found two whiny cats – one pouting because she perceived she was in trouble (true) and one pouting because she wanted to go outside and no one would let her (sort of). Does a ‘not true’ and a ‘true’ balance out to zero or what? In cat terms it equates to whining.

Jingles wanted to go out: true from her point of view. No one would let her: true from everyone’s point of view. All her humans knew something Jingles didn’t: Rain. I suspect Jingles was at least somewhat aware of the concept because she’d been out for days and came home early yesterday afternoon. I thought it was because she sensed bad weather on the horizon and wanted to be in, but clearly not. Bad weather was here and she wanted to go out during the eye of the storm. But she was beggy, and whiny, and manipulative, and I caved and let her out because I’m a pushover. Then I stood at the door waiting for her to change her mind.

We had a little black kitty-loaf on the steps for a bit, not because the sidewalk was wet so much as the neighbor’s golden retriever was out playing ball. When Sookie plays ball, she uses the entire cul-de-sac. Since Sookie’s owner, Mr. Patient, offers to mow almost all of our yards in exchange for being able to keep the trimmings, we all let Sookie romp on our grass for her occasional ball games. She doesn’t leave any little presents and is on good relations with kids and cats, so why not?

Now I say Sookie is on good relations with the cats, but the cats are occasionally unaware of this. Darth Jingles is skittish about the large golden retriever. She has a very standoffish policy about dogs. Usually. Sookie was dyed purple briefly by the neighbor’s children last summer and Jingles found that entertaining enough to suspend her extreme personal space policy, but when the dye wore off her graciousness did as well. She also played a perverted sort of whack-a-mole with the Chihuahuas behind us and a couple doors down. They dug a hole under the fence and she sat on the other side and whapped them as they stuck their noses through. It was awesome, until the owners fixed the hole, damn it.

So Sookie was playing ball, and the ball occasionally landed in our front yard, and Jingles crouched and bristled whenever the dog came to retrieve it. No hissing or running home to Mommy though, and the dog didn’t notice the little shadow by the mint bushes. Eventually Jingles took an opportunity to slink through the mint and evergreens and away from the safety of the front porch so I closed the door. It was cool enough out that I threw open some windows and started lunch in anticipation of Hubby being home eventually. After a few quick texts, I discovered he was running errands. Then I discovered Jingles in our living room window, on the ledge outside, watching me. Huh. Apparently it was a safe place to watch the dog play ball. Also, I need to wash the screen. Add that to the to-do list. Click photo, on to lunch. 2016-06-11 13.42.34Hubby came home, had lunch, and left to help a neighbor. Then Jingles came in – furious at having been tricked into going outside in such miserable weather. She’s not talking to me now. I closed some windows because it’s now raining again, and broke up a cat fight because Jingles is in a mood. Yay – trapped inside with a bitchy cat and something for her to pick on. I shouldn’t have succumbed to her whining and let her out in the first place.

Text from The Boy: he outlasted his friends, they fell asleep, and now he’s bored. He wants me to come pick him up, also he wants coffee so he can stay up longer. I considered that. If I give him coffee, he will stay up now, but then he’ll probably crash hard in early evening and sleep all night so I might get something useful from him tomorrow. Hmm. I broke up another small cat fight on the way out the door. Of course The Boy couldn’t have come home a couple of hours ago when I was lying on the floor pulling his socks out from under his sister’s bed? At least I know he’ll claim Jingles and take her to his room for the rest of the day. No more cat fights. No more peaceful weekend without the kids either.

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A Tail Not Hers

We have dramas, again. First: rain. Now I like rain. Well, not freezing rain, but a nice downward mist or refreshing summer rain – even if it’s bordering on tropical storm variety – or a spring rain that brings the promise of a new season of gardening… yeah, I sort of like rain. I prefer not to be out in it too long, and the cats prefer not to be out in it at all. So, rain, this means Jingles was inside being all angsty. That’s the second problem: the angst of a cat trapped indoors by her mortal enemy: water.

I have a theory on why Jingles tolerates Nimoy. Sure, I know the plan was to get a kitten so there wouldn’t be any question about dominance. Well, there shouldn’t have been any question about dominance, but Nimoy is a little dim, as I’ve mentioned before. I don’t think it’s the “she’s a kitten, I’m dominant, therefore I can afford to be gracious” attitude that Jingles has so much as “there’s something clearly not quite right with this one.” It’s just not polite to pick on the mentally disabled; apparently that extends to felines.

Nimoy means well. She tries very hard to keep me from falling into the toilet – she knows from experience it’s unpleasant. And while Jingles likes to ‘play’ with me while I take a bath (I have to take bubble baths if she’s going to join me so she can bat at the bubbles), Nimoy seems genuinely concerned about my welfare sitting in all that water for so long. She paces along the edge, throwing worried looks my direction and peering into the depths to see if the tub really is full of water. Every now and then Nimoy reaches out to try to catch my shoulder or arm and pull me to safety. I really wish she’d stop  because she uses claws to hook me and reel me in. For that matter, I’d be fine taking a bath on my own, but I’m not trusted alone in the bathroom. It’s kind of like having a toddler again.

The problem that arose the other day when Jingles was inside because of the rain, and angsty, was this: Nimoy persisted in playing with a tail that was not her own. The owner of said tail quickly lost patience, then the beatings began. For the most part I sat back and watched Darth Jingles set Nimoy straight on tail-etiquette, but after an hour I decided to intervene. Yes, an hour. No, you don’t get to lecture me on my slow response time, focus instead on the persistence of this absurd kitten.

I mean technically she’s still a kitten, but she’s eight months old now; at a certain point they’re supposed to learn things. When the grumpy black cat reaches out a paw and whaps her on the nose, Nimoy could conclude she did something to earn the rebuke. Maybe pause to think – skip back on the 8-track in that thick skull of hers and review the data – what did she do that made Jingles feel the need to beat her? Don’t blame Jingles either. Occasionally it really is the victim’s fault. If I were beating her that’d be different, but this is cat on cat action here. Jingles has patience, but it can’t be endless or Nimoy would never learn. I will pamper and spoil my cats, but only to a point. No paws on the kitchen counters or table, or pantry or cabinets (remind me to tell you about how we learned that one from experience). Jingles made those concessions in kittenhood and everywhere else in the entire house seems to be fair game.

Darth Jingles can’t be held responsible for the other bits of drama, instead The Girl steps up to take her place in center stage. First, a reminder: I’ve mentioned our invisible spiders before. They’re small to medium sized arachnids that happen to be the exact same color as the carpet. On the wall, they stand out – not like a black spider on a white wall, but enough. It’s that time of year where spiders are once again on the move, and because the temperature keeps bouncing up and down, some are finding their merry way indoors.

The arachnid migration is causing a problem in a few ways: primarily in that The Girl is terrified of spiders and can’t bring herself to step on them even with shoes on. She’s eighteen now and we still have to save her regularly from being trapped forever in a room by a spider lingering a foot away from the only door. Worse is when she sees the spider, screams, scares it causing it to lose its footing, we come trudging to her rescue with a tissue only to find the source of all horror has disappeared. The Girl (now supervised with the promise of immediate intervention should the creature appear again) sprints from her room and refuses to enter it again until she’s found Jingles and confined the cat to her bedroom for two hours to make sure she’s had sufficient time to hunt, kill, and devour the spider. Then she’ll sleep on the sofa in the living room anyway just in case. I’d like her reasoning on why the living room is safer, but I’m honestly afraid to point out the hole in her theory.

A similar and related problem with the new influx of spiders is Nimoy. Now when I say influx, I should clarify, I see maybe one a week. We’re not talking infestation here, just more than mid-winter levels of legs in the house. Now, our darling kitten has taken on a new tendency that has much of the household on edge: staring. Not just staring, she stares, wide-eyed and startled, at a spot on the wall just above your head or over one shoulder. And keeps staring at that spot. Now however much I tell myself I’m being paranoid because I’ve fallen for this before, she won’t stop until I break down and look.

Nothing. Just wall.

Either Nimoy finds the texture of our walls absolutely fascinating, or she’s hallucinating. It’s possible she’s toying with us, much like Jingles does with the occasional mouse, but I doubt she has the intellect. Given The Girl has seen spiders recently, she’s completely freaked out by this new behavior in her kitten.

It gets worse.

The Girl isn’t the only one who’s discovered bugs, Nimoy has too. You guessed it, she discovered the invisible spiders. Now Jingles did this once upon a time – spent time seeming to play with an empty spot in the middle of the living room floor. Closer inspection might reveal something we didn’t want to find, so after the first discovery we all decided closer inspection wasn’t necessary – Jingles picks up her toys. Unfortunately Jingles is stealthier in her maturity and we don’t see her doing this anymore so we sort of forgot about it. Extra unfortunate is that while Nimoy isn’t known for picking up her toys in terms of tidiness, she does pick them up – to move them to a more convenient location. Her claws get caught in the carpet.

Invisible spiders become visible on tile.

Sigh. That’d be fine if Nimoy actually picked them up to move them, because I bet that’d be the end of it. I mean given the relative size of a cat and a spider, I can guess the final result. No. That’s no fun, she herds her new toy to a better playground where she can play with it easier – and The Girl can see it easier. The Girl shrieks, sending Nimoy scampering off to hide and leaving a frantically sprinting spider unattended. Not once have these spiders still been either findable or reachable by the time Hubby or I arrived for damage control.

The Girl is freaking out about all the spiders in the house. All? Hubby got clever. He floated the idea to our little bundle of anxiety that there’s only one, and it’s toying with Nimoy as much as Nimoy’s toying with it. Intellectually they’re probably evenly matched. She wanted to believe that, so she did.

Then the highly improbable happened: Nimoy actually made her first kill. Intentional kill. I suspect she learned not to bite spiders before because it puts a swift and premature end to play-time, and she’s never exhibited hunting behavior so she was never in it for the kill. Any spider mortality at Nimoy’s paws & jaws was purely accidental. This time though …. If The Girl was there it wouldn’t have happened, but she was busy and The Boy was happy to not only recognize Nimoy’s changed behavior, but leave her to it. Nimoy corralled and herded her toy spider for nearly an hour before cornering it and pouncing. The cat may be a little dim, but she’s dedicated. Then she sat by her prey and meowed to get our attention. Of course we fawned over her, rewarding the behavior and all, forgetting Hubby’s story that there was only one spider in the house and Nimoy had just killed it. Another apparently moving in a couple of days later didn’t settle well with The Girl. I haven’t seen the newcomer yet. It was gone by the time I answered my theoretically adult daughter’s high-pitched shriek of dismay.

Speaking of rain, two cats trapped inside, and a high-pitched shriek of dismay, I need to go rescue something from something. Reminder: we only have one invisible spider in the house. One. It lives in the living room and plays tag with the kitten. One spider. That should keep The Girl from sleeping on my couch.

 

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