Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eight and Fifty

Time, as I have observed previously, is just one thing after another. So it is for all things, and so it has been with me.

I am a lad from the wilds of East Vancouver; I have never travelled very far away, and have always been impatient to return. I am fifty-eight years old today.

When I grow up, I would like to be taller.

Places, events and people have taken up space in the files of my memory that might be better used otherwise, but the honest fact is that I've chosen to save them there because of what they mean or have meant to me. I don't know for certain that I would change a single one of them - well perhaps one or two...

When I'm feeling particularly ancient and cranky I'll tell the younger among you that you are spoiled; that when I was your age we didn't have the things that you have now. When I was a boy, we had fire and stone tools - and we had to make them ourselves! Then, I will inform you that my first computer was a flat rock and a burnt stick. In my day, I might say, matters of the heart were determined with a club, and I still get headaches.

Another honest fact is that this trip has not been particularly strange, nor does it seem especially long. It always amazes me to wake in the morning and see somebody who looks like our friend in the top left corner laughing back at me from the bathroom mirror. Who in the hell invited him to this party?

You, however, were invited today, and I will ask that you bring me gifts.

I will post a link to my FaceBook wall below. You may leave my presents there. Among the acceptable offerings are photos, quotes, stories and music. If you see a picture that reminds you of me, know of some words that might brighten our day, a tale that might gladden our hearts, or a song that will bring a tear to our collective cheek, please share them there.

If you can think of something that you believe I need to know, or if you feel that my arrogant, intrusive, yet strangely handsome nose needs a bit of a tweak, go for it. If you feel the need to go for it more than once, kicking me after I'm already down is perfectly acceptable today.

What I would like most from you is a day filled with the music that you like and think that I would enjoy too. Remember, though, that I still haven't forgiven Carly Simon for writing that song about me...

Please be extremely well.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Big Stick Diplomacy

"Speak softly and carry a big stick;" advised Theodore Roosevelt, "you will go far."

Leonard has arrived. He is five months old, and he was trapped a few weeks ago at a Burnaby lumber yard. His left front paw had been injured, and was so badly damaged that it needed to be amputated. The amputation is pretty radical. His arm is gone from the mid-shaft of his humerus, and he holds his stump so tightly against his chest that it sometimes looks as if it is missing at the shoulder.

At the moment, he is living in a big cage on the floor of our living room, and he will remain there until he has grown a little more comfortable here. Leonard, you see, is frightened and angry. Mostly, I think, he is angry.

He's been through a great deal in his short, hard life, and he holds me personally responsible for all of the terrible things that have happened to him so far. I have given him my assurance that we are going to be best buddies one day, but he's not buying it yet. Leonard regards me as the face of his oppressor, and has given me fair warning that there's nothing that he would enjoy more than to tear that face away and feast upon the warm flesh beneath.

Although my proximity is not appreciated and my presence hasn't been invited, I am permitted to enter his room on occasion. I may straighten his bedding, police his litter box, and certainly, I am allowed to present his food four times a day.

Our five other cats get individual saucers overflowing with tinned cat food twice a day. Leonard gets tiny dollops of raw, ground meat for each of his four meals. Ronny and Bianca have noticed that he gets fed more frequently than they do, and have expressed their opinion that the system is flawed. While he accepts that it is not something that he can do for himself, Leonard comments on the quality of my service with hisses, spits and low, grownup growls.

I've been told that mealtimes are the best times to socialise feral cats...this is where the Big Stick comes in.

Over the years, the Tall Lady and I have bought numerous cat toys. Most of them are still in immaculate condition, since the cats prefer to play with empty cereal boxes, toilet paper tubes and Sheral's knitting. Some of those toys are attached to long, plastic wands. One morning, when Leonard was enjoying his breakfast of smashed beast, I tried to stroke him with one of those big sticks.

Quite understandably, Leonard was appalled, but he resumed his meal, underscoring his dinner music with throaty rumbles. I continued with this experiment for another couple of meals, until I thought it was safe to try something new.

Yesterday, I left the wand behind when I gave Leonard his dinner. When I thought he was settled and distracted enough, I reached in with my left hand, and began to pet him. At first, there was a loud, sharp report, like a kitten exploding. The angry growl came next, as the poor, startled, little cat tried to slap me with his missing left paw. Finally, he grabbed onto me with his right paw, and sank his sharp, little feline canines as deeply as they could go into my offending appendage, while calling me every dirty name he could remember, as well as a few that he'd just made up. He growled, he clawed, he scratched and he howled. While he never let down his defenses completely, he did relax a little, and he eventually returned to his meal, while I kept on stroking his back.

Note to the Tall Lady - we are going to need a new oven mitt...

Our friend Lilian has suggested that we change his menu to something a little less...macho. She has offered to make him little quiches, watercress sandwiches [without crusts], or fairy cakes with pink icing and candy sprinkles. I think it'll just take time for him to trust us.

Last night, my nephew Dave reminded me of the MacPherson Clan motto, which is this: "Touch Not the Cat Bot a Glove". "Bot" means "without". I've been getting the same message from our new foster kid.

Perhaps Leonard is already family.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Waiting for Leonard

Our apartment is in chaos tonight. The Flying Fellini Sisters, Bianca and the Weebles are racing in as many different directions as five cats can run, in a state of perfect terror...The Cage has returned!

Now, Ronny and Rena have never seen the cage before, but if it frightens Aunty Xena and Aunt Brie, that's enough to discourage them! And it does no good to explain to them that I'm just making up the spare room, because we are Waiting for Leonard.

The Tall Lady was busy packing for her trip to the Cabin when Mickey phoned us last night. Once again, Sheral tells us that she is going up to prune fruit trees and to check on the house, but the cats and I suspect that she's just going to eat quiche, drink zinfandel and watch chick flicks with her mom and sister.

Mickey is the foster manager for VOKRA, and she was calling to ask if we had room in the CatHouse for one more resident. We were, of course, perfectly free to say no. After two and a half years, Mickey has gotten to know us pretty well. WE DON'T SAY "NO"!

A few weeks ago, some of our volunteers trapped a very small black and white kitten at a Burnaby lumber yard. Because one of our old-timers, Leonard, had just died, the little fellow was named in his honour. The poor kitten is now known to all and sundry as "Baby Leonard"...uggh!. They noticed that one of his front paws was injured. In fact, it was so badly damaged, that it's had to be amputated. So, Baby...uggh!... Leonard has been living at Karen Duncan's House for the past month, wearing a lampshade, and getting analgesic injections in his skinny little cat butt.

Tonight, as if he hasn't been through enough already, he has returned to the vet, to have his stitches removed, and to be deprived of a couple of his other favourite body parts. Mickey tells us that he can be a little bit grumpy. If I'd gone through what he has, I think that I might tend to be a mite owly myself.

Leonard gets his parole at eight o'clock tomorrow morning, and will be moving into the halfway house soon afterwards. We'll have to keep him isolated until we've seen how the bigger cons treat him. Ronny is such a perfect gentleman, and Bianca has come to love every cat she's ever met. Rena is a wild card, and as for Xena and Brie - good luck, Leonard! I think that, once he learns to duck, he'll be fine.

After he's been with us for awhile, and before Sheral comes home, I was thinking that there should be some sort of a bonding ceremony in honour of ...uggh!...Baby Leonard. Maybe I'll put on some Pink Floyd, break out the catnip and a few cold ones, and all seven of us could get legless one evening.

What do you think?