Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tucking Them In

When my kids were small, winter lost its charm just as quickly as it does now (pretty much before it officially began), but one thing remained a pleasure all through the cold months: dressing my children in blanket sleepers and tucking them into their cozy beds.

I realized the other day that my porch cats provided me with an opportunity to do something similar this winter, resulting in a similar sort of satisfaction. I call them "the porch cats" because I feed them on the porch and they bed there at night--in a cardboard box I placed inside the late Caroline's doghouse. They're feral cats, two females. I'm guessing it's a mother and a daughter. I can get near the older one, even pet her a bit if I'm about to fill her dish with food. But the other, even after several years of relative domestication, won't get within five feet of me. Still, I'm quite attached to both of them.

This year I discovered a product called SnuggleSafe. I ordered it from the PetSmart website for $19.99. It's an 8" heavy plastic disk I heat up in the microwave for six minutes. Then I cover it with a former dish towel and place it on the bedding in their box. The manufacturer claims it stays warm for 12 hours, but I doubt that. I do know that the cats love this thing. They share it, lying down on it or sometimes huddling around it like it's a little round red woodstove.

They're not the only ones who love it. On sub-zero nights, warm in my bed, I think of the two grey cats on my porch, warm in theirs. In my dreams they're wearing little blanket sleepers, one yellow, one pink.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Animal Antics

As I write this, a female cardinal is banging her head against one of my living room windows. I wake up to the sound every morning. I've stopped worrying about her head; my concern now is for my window. I tried putting a life-size photo of my dog Wolfy's face in the window. That stopped her for a couple of days, but now she's back at it. She's chasing away her reflection. She thinks it's another female out to seduce her male. As Dr. Phil often says, there's no reality--only perception.

Two weeks ago I bought a one-pound package of strawberries. I brought it home, and it promptly disappeared. I was certain I had put it on the kitchen counter, but it was nowhere to be seen. I searched the fridge (not an easy task) and everywhere else I could think of. No strawberries. After a while I forgot about them. I think I decided they must have ended up in the deepest recesses of the fridge, where I'd find them one day.

Well, I found them today--under the piano. Believe me, I didn't put them there. But I know who did. The floor under the piano is where Wolfy hangs out, and where he has been known to bring stinky tidbits stolen from the garbage. But strawberries? Stolen from the kitchen counter? Well, I do know he's snatched things from the counter before. But usually reasonable things. Like raw chicken. Or cheese. I know Wolfy isn't pregnant, but I guess that day he had a craving for strawberries.

By the time I found them, they were covered with mold and had leaked rotten strawberry juice all over the wood floor. It actually removed an area of the wood finish. Fortunately, not too many people peer under the piano. I had a delightful time cleaning it all up.

Do you suppose this is my fault for feeding Wolfy popcorn and walnuts? (He eats them separately, of course.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hebrew Mathematics

“You're one-quarter Jewish,” I was told
at seventeen. I suppose you might wonder why
my father chose to wait till I was that old:
Childhood taunts had taught him the silent lie.
But I went straightaway to Doris, my best friend,
to tell her this shiksa was not exactly pure
WASP after all, thinking this would send
my Jewish pal into rhapsodies for sure.
Um…it didn’t happen precisely that way.
Actually, Doris presented a negative vibe:
She didn’t believe me. Her family had their say
as well, refusing to welcome me into the Tribe.
I still try to brag, but despite my Jewish pride,
one-quarter doesn’t count on the father’s side.