Monday, December 05, 2005


The Pig's Only Been Dead One Day and She Already Wants to Get a Cat

Arthur is frozen and entombed in a styrofoam container out in one of the sheds, waiting to be buried in the spring. I spent the day scrubbing down his cage and equipment with bleach. Then I put it all in another storage shed with his first cage and the portable traveling cage. Honestly, I don't know why I hold onto junk like that. After more than doubling our total square footage only ten years ago, we've - well - I've already filled all the useable storage areas. I've got absolutely no more storage space left, inside or out.

I know we're not likely to ever get another Guinea Pig, nor will I probably ever find some other productive use for all that stuff. Maybe I should just sell it, along with Arthur's unused 12" roly-ball, 12 pounds of special blend guinea pig food, two large bags of pine wood shavings, and one last bag of of his favorite sesame/peanut treats (we'd just replenished our pig supplies at WalMart in Anchorage several weeks ago.)

Y wants a cat, already! She wants to train it to ride in a basket in the MH for when we're finally able to spend our winters outside. Eventually, I guess I could imagine that possibility; but she didn't even wait 24 hours. He's barely cold. I'm mostly worried that as soon as the cat's no longer a cute kitten, Y will get tired of vacuuming up the almost invisible cat hairs and banish the poor thing from the house (been there, done that).

Doesn't it make sense that if we want to convince a cat to ride around in a motorhome at 70 mph, sitting in some sort of basket without puking or spazzing out, we should start while it was a young kitten, which means we should wait until we can actually use the motorhome again (4+ months off)? You can't teach an old cat new tricks. It's too cold right now to take a kitten out in one of the cars and try to acclimate it to that kind of motion. I've tried to tell her that...

I've never really liked cats. I always resented their unwillingness to obey my every command. Worse, I always took exception to their getting all indignant that I would actually dare tell them what to do (harrumph). But I've mellowed so much since Clyde. Clyde-the-Crone. She made it to fifteen years old. A master hunter and night stalker, she prowled the woods for birds most of the year, but always appeared around the sliding glass door at mealtimes and in the evenings, staring at me, making me feel guilty for not letting her in. As if I could. It was years after she died before any swallows ever came around again. Frankly, I don't think I'd really care this time what the cat does - I'm going to leave all that to Y.

I'm thinking about calling my cello, Ellwood.
Today, I got some cello books from Amazon:

"Tipbook: Cello - The Best Guide to Your Instrument" by Hugo Pinksterboer;
"The ABC'(sic)s of Cello for the Absolute Beginner" by Janice Rhoda;
"The Art of Cello Playing" by Louis Potter.

Just flipping through them today taught me a lot, already. I can't wait to try one or two of their basic pieces. Today, I played an hour and a quarter. All of a sudden, my fingers can't find their spots on the strings and my bow starts to screech and I lose focus. I'm not noticing any ache in the tip of my left forefinger, it's sort of numb.

My stand hasn't come in yet; they said tomorrow. [In Argentina, whenever a shopkeeper told you something was coming in two weeks from Thursday, that meant never.] I'm not sure if you're supposed to keep the cello on a stand. I probably will leave it out after my morning play, though, since I think I'd pick it up more often if it's out during the day.

My brother and his wife are going to Hawaii for xmas. I prefer to be home at xmas. But once Z is gone, we'll probably spend xmases in our MH - with our cat that supposedly sits in a basket and doesn't mark it's turf on everything inside the MH. It'll be fine with me, as long as it's warm.

Campground Managers, (Egad)
Several years ago, we actually almost bought an RV park in the desert southwest of Phoenix. We put in a bid, but someone else got there a few days ahead of us. They moved down from Bellingham, where he'd just retired as a middle manager at a refinery. It had several date palms (I love eating dates), and was situated at the base of some neat hills, which would have been good for exploring, ATVing, geocaching, donkey rides, etc. It had an old house but it looked like it could be fixed up OK (the guy who actually bought it, put insulation and siding on the outside walls.). It had a pool with an OK cabana. Whew! Are we glad we didn't go down that path! Most of the customers were snowbirds who came back each winter. I can't believe we got that close to raising our then 11 year-old son in an environment like that. Not to mention that summers got to 115F.

That brilliant plan was the one where we were going to bail out of Alaska and invest our savings and maybe some of our 401k into an RV park - not a big one, just enough to pay for itself and carry us. Then, one afternoon, I realized that instead of sunning my fat butt on the deck every afternoon like I was doing at that time, I'd be tied up from 3 to 8 checking in customers and listening to them bitching about everything. That fantasy abruptly ended. I've been spoiled all these years with flex-time working hours that got me home in the early to mid-afternoons; that and every other Friday off.

Raising a Kid, again
Z is 13, in middle school. I was 42 when he was born. Y was 40. A & B were 16 and 15, and totally not ready to accept a newborn brother into their lives. Y was happy enough, but I was ecstatic. I'd realized by then how little I'd been involved in their lives all those years. How distant I'd been and how estranged we were (not so much, negatively, as distant). It was hard to change my behavior with A & B; they were at an age where I was uncool just by definition, so they weren't really receptive to my new overtures.

I vowed to be different with Z, and I have been. From the moment he was conceived (I knew immediately when it happened; somehow I just felt it), I talked to him, massaged him, gently pushed back when he'd stick a knee or elbow out. After he was born, I cut the cord, gave him his first bath, held him first. Watched him open his eyes and smile. I felt like my father was in that delivery room, just for a moment - he'd died 3 years earlier. From the moment he could hold his head up, I propped him with cushions beside me on the couch. Then as a small toddler, he sat on the arm of the couch. As he got bigger, he began to sit beside me, with my arm over his shoulder. That continued until he was eleven or twelve. He still comes back and sits beside me for a few minutes every once in a while.

I feel like I've been a pretty good father to Z, setting reasonably fair but also reasonably flexible rules - the rules for A & B were way stricter - a fact they've reminded me of once or twice since then. Having seen that A & B turned out fine in spite of all my interfering and also that they turned out the way they were probably always going to in spite of what I thought they should become; I realized that I was getting a rare chance to do it again. This time I would get to just enjoy watching (and helping) him grow, rather than directing how he should grow.

More on this, later.

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