Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Thread Runs through It

Shakespeare’s King Richard cried, “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” And you just knew he meant it.

For several days now I’ve felt exactly the same way about cat poop.

And believe me, I NEVER thought I’d say that.

I got home Friday night and over the course of several hours pieced together a little story for what my cats had been up to that day. (I’m actually embarrassed to confess how long it took me. I’d have to give up my life-long membership of the Nancy Drew Girl Sleuth fan club if you only knew.)

Apparently one of my kitties – that would be Wilkie – discovered a spool of thread I had forgotten to put away in full concealment. As anyone would do (come on, you know you would), she chased it all over the house. And when she got tired of that she snacked on it. Ate it all up like Lady and the Tramp slurping up one big long noodle in that famous scene. This being gritty real life rather than a Disney movie Wilkie didn’t fall end up falling in love with a scrappy street dog. No, instead Wilkie then puked up yards of semi-digested thread. (Mistress of the Pleasant Surprise, Wilkie puked up the thread on my bed. She’d have gotten in a lot of trouble for that if I’d figured it out before she fell seriously ill.)

The tricky thing about swallowing a lot of thread – as fun as that must have been – is that sometimes it can get looped around your tongue. So then you’re stuck with thread going through your little kitty digestive system, yet anchored to your poor sore little kitty-tongue. Stalemate, you might say. Eventually – after trying to unsuccessfully to hork up thread every hour on the hour for 16 hours – I figured out what was going on and took her to the vet.

We’ve only lived here a few months so this was our first visit to the vet. Fortunately we got lucky and our new vet – henceforth known in this household as Saint Doctor Baker – knew exactly what was going on. She calmed me down (I was really very worried) and also managed to cure Wilkie without having to operate. The patience-trying, sleep-denying part of the process was having to wait for Wilkie to poop. Days. We waited days.

THREE WHOLE DAYS waiting for a positive outcome. So to speak.

In the meantime, having survived her crisis and come out unscathed, Wilkie is now demonstrating an all-hours, day and night gratitude for being alive. She’s feeling pretty frisky for a middle-aged cat. If she could sing and dance, she would do so. As it is, she is acting at all times like the most friendly, purry, playful 15-pound kitten you’ve ever seen. She asks for belly rubs. She attacks my feet under the covers. She chats chummily whenever I talk on the phone (since she can’t hear the other person, she assumes we’re having a conversation.) And she’s been playing a marathon game of fetch since Sunday morning. She follows me everywhere with cat toys, demanding I throw them for her. I come home from work – there’s a toy by the door, a toy in her food bowl, and a toy in my slippers. I wake up in the morning, there’s a toy by my pillow. I step out of the shower, there’s a toy on the bathmat.

It’s a huge relief. We’re all very happy. Especially Dickens who did not understand why every time I heard him scraping around in the litterbox I’d come tearing in there from the far corners of my apartment thinking he was Wilkie. He’d give me an outraged “Do you MIND?!” look and I’d sheepishly leave him to it. He appreciates the return of my disinterest in all cat litterbox activities. As do I.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vanished into the Old West

Hi! I’ve been gone FOREVER. Sorry about that. I can’t believe October has come and gone. I’ve been traveling a little and working and adjusting to life in Texas and obsessing about the election and doing some more adjusting and navigating the mysteries of car repair. I keep meaning to come back here and write things down but I’m easily distracted these days – forgive me.

To make it up to you I have a fun show and tell for you, all about my favorite recently-moved-to-Texas story, about the 8th Annual Texas Stampede in downtown Dallas. For those of you unlucky enough to have missed it, I’m posting pictures below for your entertainment.

Apparently this happens every year. They block off Main Street in downtown Dallas and there beneath the glass skyscrapers drovers in chaps on patient-looking horses drive 100 head of longhorn cattle past the crowds of onlookers on break from their workaday business. I found this FASCINATING. First of all, do you have any idea how freakin’ huge a longhorn is????

I mean, we all know they’re big, but when you’re standing on the side of the road watching a local police officer shoo one on his way the gigantic-ness really becomes clear.

Look, a cowboy.

Look, a runaway steer. (Okay, you can't tell that he's a runaway in this shot, but right after I took this photo he came over to the barriers and started snuffling bystanders - starting his own little mini-stampede of people running away from him - until a cowboy came and shuffled him back in with the rest of the herd.)

Note his wonky horns. The slightly-terrifying cowpoke-lady next to me announced that he must have gotten in a fight when he was a baby. I was busy blending in with the scenery so neither steer nor cowpoke-lady would notice me or I might have asked for more information.

All this took place near one of my favorite views in downtown Dallas, the one that includes both the round towers of the Old Red Courthouse and the sphere of Reunion Tower.

Let’s be honest, ‘stampede’ was a misnomer. It was a thoroughly-organized, none-too-hurried amble for everyone concerned. The cows got so bored at the end of it that they turned around and tried to go in reverse. The cowboys on horses WITH BULLWHIPS stopped them. I’m telling you, it was a very weird little break in my workday.

At the end of the road, near Old Red, all the animals had to stop and wait while drovers loaded them up one-by-one into cattle-trailers to take them away. They got bored. One giant longhorn peed, which was startling (maybe not for him, but it was certainly startling to innocent bystanders), but then – power of suggestion being strong in a herd – they all peed. Everyone of them seemed to follow some psychic cow cue and they peed a river all over Main Street. It was pretty funny.

This never once happened when I lived in Boston.