(I know, I know, I still owe you the blog on lost youth....it is coming soon..........)
And now for something completely different.
The only somewhat interesting development I can pass on this week is regarding Baskin, my part feral orange kitty who, in the 6 or 7 or 10 years he has lived here would not let me get close enough to touch him. I inherited him from a friend who rescued him from some mean kids when he was a kitten. She told me that all he did was hide in the closet except to come out to eat and....you know. When she had to move and could not take him to her new apartment she begged me to take him and I, naturally, succumbed. I figured I would have him eating out of my hand in two weeks max. Ha. In 2 weeks I couldn't get within 6 feet of him. Dumb Cat!
After 2 weeks of failure I switched to plan B. I went off blithely to KMart and purchased a big heavy duty fishing net for scooping huge bass or something from the water, removed everything breakable from my bathroom and proceeded to chase Baskin around the sunroom for an hour or so trying to net him in a space not occupied by furniture. Sweaty, exasperated and exhausted I finally got him and trotted to the bathroom shutting both of us inside, with Baskin uttering the most horrible moans and shrieks while I tried to soothe him with soft platitudes.
After freeing him from the net into the bathtub lined with soft towels I kept up the soothing speech while he cowered in the farthest corner of the tub looking at me like I was Freddie Whatshisname.. I then reached out slowly and proceeded to pet him while he tensed every muscle in his body making him feel like a lump of bricks and continued with the awful moans that told everyone on the block that I was torturing a cat in here. Patiently I proceeded and after a few minutes the moans stopped but not the tenseness. A few more minutes and I actually heard him purring a bit while still tensed into the fearful ball. After a while of this, I then I complimented him on his bravery and told him we would play like this again later. I was sure I was making progress.
Naturally I brought food, fresh water and clean litter box several times daily and each time our routine was the same. I was sure that after a few days the howls, at least, would stop. Not a chance. The animal lovers in the neighborhood were already casting dirty looks at me no matter how much I reassured them that no animal was being harmed in this process. At the end of a week our relationship had not improved a single whit so I just gave up, released him back to the sunroom and the safety of the wicker couch or the topmost shelf of the kitty condo and got my bathroom back.
The Plan B maneuver was repeated a number of other times during the first year or two with not one iota of improvement till I finally said, "F... you, you miserable little excuse for cat.......you win......no contact.......and thus it continued for 5 years until I finally decided to let him spend the day in the garden, fixed up the garden shed with a bed and food and water, let him sleep in the shed at nite if he preferred and just come in for meals whenever. He really seemed to like that. But he looked so lonely.
Then I went to the enormous trouble and expense of getting another cat to keep him company. When he first came to live here I had two lovely russian blue kitties, Minnie and Moe, and Baskin loved both of them, particularly Minnie and he would cuddle with her and not have to be lonely. Sadly, both of them reached their expiration dates and, since he never cottoned to Gussie, I thought perhaps another female might fill the bill. Hence Winnie came into our lives and it was Pretty Good. He developed a crush on her and, while she was pretty casual about him, she did permit him to lie close to her by the pool and to follow her around so at least he wasn't lonely any more. That improved the situation a bit for me and I though that was as good as it it would get.......until this summer when I ordered from the internet an easy-to-install screen to cover the sliding door opening but still permit easy entry and exit.
I have always described Baskin as mentally challenged, but I have just found out that I am wrong. He is actually very intelligent....just brutally, head-smitingly stubborn. For the years when his pattern was that in the morning I open the back door of the sunroom where he ate, slept and poohed, he would run outside , spend the day in the yard and often refused to come back in at nite. For several years now he has been sleeping in the garden shed most nites. In the morning when I open the door and leave the room he would come in and have his breakfast and during the day go in and out the open door but only stay in some nites. (those nites when he sleeps inside he wakes me to be let out with huge howls around 4 or 5 am....grrrr.) Of course this method may have been been good for Baskin but it was hell for me .....not only the early wake up call. but the flies! Because the flies in the neighborhood considered the open door an engraved invitation to come in and drive me crazy in the kitchen, and required me to perfect both my forehand and backhand slam and be constantly at the ready when I would have really preferred doing other things. Sigh. Such is the life of a slave to cats.
But then.....recently I bought a thingy of a screen that fastens over the slider opening with velcro and has a magnet that closes the split to keep out at least some of the flies.. Of the 3 felines, only Baskin figured out that he could poke his head thru the split and get in and out. The other 2 cats sit and look at it like it was the Berlin Wall so I have to prop it open a bit at the bottom for them. Recently my handyman has been working in the yard with his chain saw plugged into a socket in the sun room and the extension cord running out that door so I cannot close it all the way at nite. That little devil, Baskin, figured out how to get his claws into the opening and slide the door open enough for him to get out in the morning. (tenks gott....better than having him wake me at 4 am every nite howling.) Now he generally comes in every nite around 5 or 6 pm to sleep and is almost blase about my passing through the room. I think he feels he has his own key now and is more comfortably independent. Meanwhile neither of the other cats has figured out how to slide the sliding door open. The little bastard.....all this time I thought he was retarded. He is obviously brilliant......a very clever pain in the ass by choice.
Both of us are so much happier now.....I am tickled to have him indoors at night and protected from the weather and other threats and also delighted to be able to walk into that room without him behaving like I was Typhoid Mary and running like his tail was on fire. He even looks at me differently now......instead of that fearful, wary, sullen stare he now observes me calmly, almost benignly......unless, of course, I get within about 20 inches of him.
There is and has always been, however, one exception. (This, by the way, has been going on for years). It consists of him taking a certain hiding position under the wicker couch, my going out to the garden and gathering a handful of the choicest tender blades of grass (only accomplished on hands and knees, you understand, and returning to the sunroom with the sacred bouquet. Then, I get down on hands and knees or, preferably, tummy, on the floor and creep with outstretched arm to fingertip distance from Baskin holding out a tender blade enticingly. Baskin, who is watching me like a hawk to be sure I do not get 1/16 of an inch closer than necessary, pretends to cast a casual disinterested, disdainful, blase glance at the offering and, just at the moment when the phrase, "Fuck you, you ungrateful wretch", is trembling on my lips, he reaches out an inch toward the morsel and chompfs it down to a nub allowing his whiskers to tickle my eager fingers in the process This gets repeated with each blade until there is nothing but inedible nubs left whereupon he scans the floor in front of him for missed goodies, sighs and turns away casting me a glance fraught with meaning something like, "There, you frumpy old biddy, don't ever say I never did you a favor". I am not sure what it says about my character, pride or self-respect that I accept this treatment gratefully.......I do not intend to pursue that avenue right now. I never for a minute would have put up with such abuse from any man in my life, but, somehow with Baskin it seems OK. I cannot satisfactorily explain this.
Chalk it up to just one more character flaw or sheer insanity, whichever comes to mind first.
The New Yorker covers: March 17, 1934
8 hours ago