Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being And Taterness

My current cat Tater and I differ more ways than we are alike. She can leap to a five-foot countertop in a nonchalant second; I fell on my fanny trying to execute a three-inch hop on Leap Day. She nods off between naps; I pound out novels in the middle of the night for no remunerative reason. She has perfect, velvety paw pads; I have a Plantar's wart. She doesn't like ice cream or beer; I'm not nuts. She walks around presenting her ass like it was the Hope Diamond, and I haven't done that for decades. Sometimes we connect unpredictably. She gazes at me with yellow, unblinking eyes that say: I really like having you around, but don't expect too much. I feel the same way. It's an easy relationship. She rakes her head against my ankle and I toss crackers in her bowl once a day.

One time we decided to take Tater to the mountain cabin with us. We reasoned it would be slightly nicer for her to have us around for three days than to leave her on her own, because she is very social. Tater had never set paw outside the house after her first kittenly vet visit. It's been five years. Birds are TV to her--endlessly entertaining, and off-limits as snack items. That's the rule.

"What can go wrong?" I asked Dave, who gave me that look that means: when we find out, it isn't going to be his fault. We bundled our stuff into the car, with Tater blasting around the house as is her habit when she sees a suitcase come out, and at the last minute we picked her up and took her to the car. After we unhooked her from the mid-epidermal layer of my shoulder, we took off. Tater located a two-inch slot under the front seat, wedged into it like a wafer of fur, and yowled WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH for forty miles.

Once we'd arrived at the cabin, and put in all our stuff plus the litter box, we brought in the cat. She did a thorough exploration of the place in a minute. An electron would have missed more. Same thing happened when we brought her home from the Humane Society the first time. "Your kitty will be cautious at first. Leave her in her opened crate in a single room until she's had a chance to adapt. Then, gradually, make other rooms available." Tater torpedoed out of the crate and did a reconnaissance of all three floors, rolled over for a belly rub, and then took off again to leave cheek marks on all the perimeters of her new territory. If there was room for a moth to flap in that house, she knew about it within five minutes.

So it was the same thing with the cabin. A minute of pandemonium, then it was Happy Kitty. Sofa Leopard, Chair Leopard, Defender Of The Woodpile, Strider Of The Countertop. Home. All was well.

I recognized this. We have more in common than I'd realized. Everywhere in life I find myself, I'm fine. Am I thirty now? No problem that can't be solved by more beer and bigger pants. My forties? No worries. Then I fetch up in my fifties with no eyebrows, and some of the other nouns are missing, too. Oh well--there's comedy in that.

But the transitions--the lurches--the moments when I realize that those kids in the coffeehouse think I'm a fossil hippie, those times when my train of thought derails four words in, the mornings I notice my skin isn't even attached in places, the sudden apprehension that I'm not getting out of this gig alive--WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH. I can adjust, do the reconnaissance and settle down in a hurry. Don't make me go in the car again.

74 comments:

  1. It one thing to be a homeless person, but it is quite different to be cabinless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, if you're BOTH, it's kind of the same.

      Delete
  2. Yes, I too am realizing that I'm not getting out of this alive - and I'm not happy about it. Inside, I'm still a mere child and, some would say, getting more childish by the day.

    I loved Tater's rear end shot. It reminded me of a guy at work who named his cat "Muylermor." When I asked about that name, he said it was because you can see his ass from a "mile or more."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember hearing about someone with a trio of kittens named Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, because they followed her all the days of her life.

      Delete
    2. That's a funny one, Murr. Saving it for a great tell someday.

      Delete
  3. From one fossil hippie to another---you're still groovin'. But don't give up the blankie. (I really love Dave's outfit. My husband has several from the same designer.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His Big Boobies shirt? Ooo, I doubt it!

      Delete
  4. Well, this post just snuck up on me by surprise, that's for sure. Sucked me in with a cute cat story and ended with an analysis of life and death that hits the sweet spot of my 49-year old life.

    You gave me a new perspective. I'll ponder this for a while today.

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's probably the same old perspective. Summed up as: GAAAAHH!

      Delete
  5. That picture of Dave and the cat gave me paws. The look on both of their faces is priceless. If you stay under the blankie, everything will be all right, trust me. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do trust you, Djan, as much as I'd trust anyone who'd jump out of a perfectly good airplane! (Not enough blankies in the world for that to happen.)

      Delete
  6. My skin is detaching, too. And my brain, which is scarier. Is this a good time to try a novel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes. It's the best.

      Delete
  7. Tater looks like quite a character. I bet he keeps you busy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I'm working it right, she keeps Dave busy and leaves me alone. I'm the designated feeder, and Dave plays with her, which is what she wants. My first cat didn't play so much. She sat on laps, which is what I wanted. Saint Larry...

      Delete
  8. An item on last night's news: people who live with cats have fewer heart attacks. I suppose those who do have attacks collapse from having a kitten jump onto their shoulders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know that thing where they pop out in front of you to trip you up? Neither of my cats did that. Larry did it once and Dave accidentally stepped on her tail WHILST lifting her tummy with the other foot (and landed on the floor without spilling any dinner from his plate). She never ever did it again. This one just sits there in the dark until you step on her. She never believes you can't see her. She can see YOU.

      Delete
  9. Love the picture of Dave and Tater. "Yeah, deese are my feet. Yew gotta problem wid dat?"

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sucked me in too---I always love a good cat story, but death-pah.
    I'm older than you are so I am r.e.a.l.l.y p'd off at not getting to stick around forever. It's a good thing I live with a cat-hopefully it will ward off a heart attack brought on by p*ssed-offed-ness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just realized the O. Henry ending. We die from the cat curling up on our sleeping faces. Oh wait, that's probably Poe.

      Delete
  11. Ah Murr......I wish i could write like you. I think you are a bit younger than I but I can so relate to much of what you write. The'beer and bigger pants' thing is sheer genius. I realize i LIVED it....I had just never NAMED it. And...don't get me started about skin that's not attached! I am so thankful to have found your blog.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm 58. And happy to say my pants size has gone down. I'm glad you found me, too.

      Delete
  12. What is life without regular doses of cat-butt-in-the-face? My cats are all dead and gone now, so I have cat-butt fridge magnets instead... because you just can't get enough of the sight of that little rosebud winking up at you.

    Yes, it's true. You can actually buy an entire set of magnets depicting cat butts of various breeds. Comes complete with an observer's guide and a bonus hairball: http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Cat-Butt-Magnet-Set/dp/B000DZALFG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I can totally get enough of that little rosebud. I didn't realize one of #1 cat Larry's attributes was that she always held her tail low until I got Miss Winky, here. My sister had those magnets on her refrigerator, and somehow, no one claimed them when we were cleaning out her house.

      Delete
  13. "She walks around presenting her ass like it was the Hope Diamond, and I haven't done that for decades."

    I guffawed out loud when I read this line. Has Tater been spayed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She came that way from the Humane Society, but the only critters she presents her ass to are humans, so she probably wouldn't have gotten into any trouble. Indoor cats rule.

      Delete
  14. Thanks. It's my birthday tomorrow (the last one before 50) and I had been suffering a minor existential crisis, exacerbated by having up close and personal views of friends/relatives in their not-so-awesome 80's. Life is finite, I realized (and yes, I do tend to be slow on the uptake); and so I spent a couple of weeks counting out how many weekends I might have left in this temporal plane. Then I went back and figured the odds of how many good weekends I might have left, weekends when I wouldn't be living under the shadow of some devastating diagnosis.

    If you haven't guessed, this is not a productive line of thought. Finally? I said "F...it" and postponed all future musings on mortality for when I turn 60. Way to kick the can down the road, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never really internalized the feeling that I'm on the downhill slope until I retired at age 55, which is a little late for that. But transitions get your attention. If it helps, I do find that those moments of existential angst that usually come in the middle of the night are less troublesome now. I think maybe we get better at this.

      Delete
    2. Relax, SC; 50 is the new 40. You're just catching up to yourself.

      Delete
  15. I was laughing so hard I think more skin detached!
    Karma's not an ass parader, but I have owned many a cat that was. I'm an old flower child with droopy petals. ;)
    This was marvelous!! :):)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ever held your arm crooked over your head while you're lying down? Don't.

      Delete
    2. ROFLMAO!!! Forewarned. ;)

      Delete
  16. I hear you, oh yes I do.

    Wonderful post in so many ways. I had not read "indoor cats rule" before, so thanks for that link too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping we'll have an indoor cat revolution. After all, people scoop dog poop now, and I never thought that would happen.

      Delete
    2. I'm all for indoor cats - have three myself :)

      Delete
  17. Hey Murr! Fabulous photo of Dave and Tater! Sorry, I have to post that on FaceBook! Such awesome feet! Roth x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No sorry! You are most welcome. I love that photo.

      Delete
  18. Oh how familiar I am with that mournful cry which they save for the car. Poor Tater.. poor you and Dave.

    It's nifty how critters adapt and live in the moment. We could learn a lot from them, and evidently, you have.

    I imagine that Tater has a fine tale or two about you to share, also. Purrpurrs... you might want to save the blog name for her. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like it. I also like that she's the official Blog Moggie, a word I learned from my readers across the pond.

      Delete
  19. I'm the other Hilary, and friends with her, too.
    I was sent over here by Joycetta.....who said I should be coming here regularly since you and I were soulmates of a sort.
    So here I am, and I am smitten.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um...of a sort? I'm glad you made the trip!

      Delete
  20. I'm pretty much wedged into the car when Paul drives. I used to be so easy and carefree, but now I go for the imaginary brake and phantom steering wheel. It's the transition from place to place that really gets to me too. But I always get there in one piece....so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm trying to cope with being a passenger when Dave's driving by looking out the side window. Exclusively. Now riding in the car gives me a neckache.

      Delete
  21. What a gorgeous cat!

    As for thoughts on mortality......hey, kid.....wait till you find out what they are like when you are 85.

    Love you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd be interested in hearing them. Must be time to pop over to your place.

      Delete
  22. After my youngest sister died at 49, a friend died at 50, and most recently my husband's cousin died at 64, I realized that I will be perfectly happy to just take every single day that I can get, and I am not wasting them on the angst of growing older. Growing older is a gift and I intend to receive it graciously. In any event, it has somewhat relieved the depression that I had felt about growing older when I turned 50. You clearly are enjoying that fossil hippie life you have!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only birthday that freaked me out was my seventeenth. I won't even go into why. It's too embarrassing.

      Delete
  23. We call our cats (both black) the mines. You're creeping thought the dark on a late-night refrigerator assault, when suddenly -- BOOM!

    "What was that, Honey?"

    "Oh, nothing. Just stepped on a mine."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously, what is the deal with them? Can't they SEE that we can't see them and don't they move when the big shoe of death is upon them? Fortunately Tater is part Labrador retriever and seems to be able to take a good beatin'.

      Delete
  24. I only attempted to transport a cat in a car and not inside a carrier just once. The cat sat quietly until I got on the freeway. Then she became airborne, hitting the windows, screaming that mournfully and loud cat cry, and then tried to climb up my leg as I was driving. I was afraid I'd have an accident. I pulled over, grabbed a blanket, wrapped the cat inside of it, stuffed it into a cardboard box and quickly headed home hoping she would not escape before I arrived. After that--carriers always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then there's the old climb-under-the-brake trick.

      Delete
  25. Oh, and it is the pits growing older and not recognizing yourself when you look in a mirror. I have an image in my brain that I prefer to see myself as looking and avoid all reflective surfaces like a vampire avoids garlic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the vampires are just being silly. Canned beets, I could understand.

      Delete
  26. I've never had a cat. I consider myself fortunate in that regard. However, you seem to like your critter. Which is good. For both of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People who don't like cats are people who haven't had one. They don't usually show their comedic side to just anyone. Tater does. She bounds to the door when anyone comes over in case there's a pettin' on the other side.

      Delete
  27. Many years ago my wise sister, upon hearing her husband bemoan the fact that he was turning 38, said, "In ten years you will be turning 48, and will think fondly of 38, so why don't you enjoy it while you are here."
    Obviously this works for any age, & I have found this does make it easier to just enjoy where I am. (I do wish that I could be lighter on my feet, and am enjoying a slightly smaller pants size. I'm 58 also. Seems like I might have already told you that. In fact, I may have shared this whole story with you before. As we used to tell my parents on long Sunday drives, "You tell us that every time we come by here!")

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember listening politely when my Dad would start in with "that reminds me of a story..." and we all knew which story. Now I can feel that same politeness coming off of young people on my behalf. Oh well.

      Delete
  28. So far, I'm enjoying the accumulated wisdom and eccentricity that comes with age. I haven't figured out how to deal with the hair that's falling out of my eybrows and obviously sticking to my chin. (Been missing you. We need to have a summer conflab)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good idea! Happy solstice. I've had that sturdy hair coming out of my chin for years. I plucked it the other day and discovered that it is now gray.

      Delete
  29. I have twelve of the little fur persons around the house. I can tell from the picture that Dave and Tater are my kind of people.

    ReplyDelete
  30. 45 years ago my genetics prof had a tom cat named Virgin Mary. We didn't ask.
    You are right about needed to have a cat to learn to like them. We had barn cats but they were semi-wild and caught mice for a living. Kuchma is a semi-house cat who likes to be petted but NOT picked up. I quite like him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most cats do not show their funny side to random visitors. Nor their belly side either. Tater is a bit of an attention slut.

      Delete
  31. Oh, how I know the urge to drive one's self into the two-inch space of almost anything and wail "Wah WAH WAH WAH".

    Diggin' the Tater,

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are parts of me that would now fit into a two-inch waferlike space that wouldn't have ten years ago. Wah wah wah wah.

      Delete
  32. I love the first picture and the big feet picture with Dave. And the Kitty butt- well, what higher honor can your feline companion give than their stinky butt in your face. That is love.

    ReplyDelete
  33. May I add blurred vision and ringing in the ears to this list? Wish I could still leap but these days even stairs are posing fear! DART!! But Ellie meows and purrs to get me moving. Buddy hints that it's time for a walk:)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Cats are rulers of any domain they occupy. Sounds like Kitty established herself well. I am glad that we do not mark our territory in the same way.

    ReplyDelete
  35. You had better watch your back, as I'm currently fighting off the urge to creep up behind you, toss a potato sack over your head, and secret you away to my compound where I'll make you my fourth sister wife. And I'm not very good at fighting off my urges, as my evening multiple beers and resultant larger pants will tell you.

    The last paragraph in this post? Amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never been so creepily flattered in all my days.

      Delete