Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cat's up

Hmm, the April poetry prompts haven't been doing it for me lately. They're stacking up like lumber. Not a good sign. My goal is to write 60 poems for Poetry Month. I've got 13 poems.

Blue-green acid test.
Today, instead of finishing my taxes, I did 6 loads of laundry, gathered up my art supplies I'll need for Tartan Day at Ardenwood in Fremont (set up is tomorrow afternoon.) Got lost in a time warp in the garage where I store my art supplies.

Other chores beckoned. Catsitting gig in particular. While on enforced chair time, kittysitting, I played with Picasa, and took some Koolaid colored acid test photos of myself with my laptop for a possible avatar photo for new Twitter account. How very Andy Warhol. Maybe I should take some photos holding a soup can?

Whadda ya mean, a corgi puppy?
Spartan, who has finally settled in for his 15 minutes of scheduled laptime, is fascinated by the laptop's PhotoBooth software countdown: 1, 2, 3—FLASH! He quizzically peers into the laptop screen, pats it gently.

Played with Facebook—made myself a new Fan Page as my students, the kids from Cleveland Elelmentary School have found me out and I'm being deluged by myriad friend requests. Not sure if I want to friend them all. Will have to watch my Ps & Qs.

Played with the cats. Played with a wine cork. Played with a wine glass. Washed the turtles (and their pond). Joined Twitter.

Today, the cats were bad, very bad. I guess they decided to help themselves. Last night, they got into the 25 lb. bag catfood underneath the kitchen sink (even though the door was rubber-banded shut—apparently they're smarter than toddlers) and tore a big hole in the bottom of the bag. There was a huge mountain of catfood on the floor. I shovel it into a dustpan like a miner collecting slag coal.

I should've guessed something was up when I came in through the back door. They still played me as usual but they were acting so guilty. My routine: pick up the mail in the lobby, come up the back stairs and cats usually come to greet me on the bookshelf at the door.

Nellie-cat usually stands on the shelf and wants to kiss noses with me (whisker tickles) and Spartan attempts to trip me with some fancy ankle weaving. The object of their desire is food, I'm merely the bearer of good things. The kissing routine is merely greasing the wheel. Sophistocated cat-begging.

This time, the cats were both on the floor and they were unusually subdued. Pile of catfood in the kitchen explained it all. Don't tell me that they don't know right from wrong. They acted guilty before I found the evidence.

It looks like they both tried to eat as much of the kitty kibble as possible, so needless to say, they didn't get fed. They each drank a bowl of water, so I guess the catfood swelled their little bellies tight. Means I have to stay extra long today to make sure they don't explode.

Not sharing McBoing-boing!
I had a horse like that once, a canny begger, she'd sneak into the barn and take apart a haybale and make a huge nest of it with her nose. I had to put nails through the garbage can lids we used to store the sacks of grain like deadbolts because she was quite dextrous with her lips—she could open garbage can lids up to get to the oats inside.

And the same story: if I caught her in the act, she definitely looked guilty. Then it was walking duty. I had to walk her for hours to make sure she didn't get colic and die. (She eventually did die from overeating—but then, she was 32 years old).

I was often awakened in the middle of the night by my horse flipping over tall aluminum garbage cans and noisily rolling them around in the corral in hopes of shaking loose some oat treats. Some oats did sift out under the lid—so her bad behavior was rewarded.

Surveying the cat kingdom.
I'll be cat/turtle sitting duty for nearly three weeks and I am constantly amazed at their strength of personality and sheer willfulness. Felid manipulation and terrapin tantrums revolve around food. Never a dull moment. This is a job I could grow to like.

I use the opportunity to prep for my poetry classes—read kid poems, comment on them, type up samples for the next day. April is poetry month—and also the busiest month of the year for my teaching gigs. Cat seem to prefer to sit on my lap only when I'm ready to type—uncanny how they choose the most awkward time possible for lap fix. It's all about the object of their affection.

Weirdly, the two red-eared turtles also seem to crave human attention—especially the little one. When I sit in the chair near their tank, he tries to get as close as possible and claws frantically at the glass—even after he's fed. He's either ravenous or rambunctious or both. The other one, who is more reserved, prefers to bask under the sun lamp, with nose pointed skyward.
Did you mention bananas?

Their owner emails from the other side of the world, says: Oh, he always does that. He just wants to be hand fed. I tried that with turtle kibble but he clamped onto my finger instead. I couldn't shake him off. So I resorted to hand-feeding him yuppie lettuce. The white vee of his beak was in stark contrast to the forest green of his skin. He was a little surprised by the texture (of the lettuce, not my finger), and spat it out as if it were poison. Not dried turtle kibble or mealworms. He woefully looked up at me as if to say WTF is that? And then begged some more.

Why yes, I'd love a knuckle sammich.
But when the other turtle slipped into the pond to investigate the lettuce it was suddenly desirable. And then the lettuce wars were on. He attacked with gusto—snorting water out of his little nostrils like a dragon or one of Charles Darwin's imps of darkness—the Galápagos marine iguana. Little green confetti piles of shredded lettuce floating in the pond.

Oops, now I have to clean their pond. What goes in... Must be one of those retrograde days when the animal planets are in mischief mode. Even the turtles were bad today. When I was cleaning their tank, the little one kept trying to sneak out of his loose-lidded tupperware dish. Like a child, he'd push the lid up, check it out to see if the coast was clear and then try to crawl out onto the carpet, first one front leg over the edge of the plastic bin, then the other. He was the epitome of caution stepping out in slo-mo.

But then he'd spot me and drop back down into the dish like a Jack-in-the-box. Then he'd pop his head back up, pushing the lid up slowly. Then down. Up. Down. Up. It was quite comical. The cats keep an eye on him, if he gets out of his Tupperware bowl, they'll gnaw on him. Not a good move.

Spartan runs up the curtain, hangs in space over the turtle tank as they bask under the sunlamp; he's like a furry astronaut contemplating a moonwalk. They ignore him. The wire mesh lid keeps furry intruders out. But a cat can dream of big game conquests.

And I'm still unsatiated, I haven't written today's poem...not for lack of fodder. My mind's a hamster wheel of random thought. But the photo of me holding Spartan peering into the laptop camera looks promisingly obscure for a Twitter avatar. I slip out the door into the last nuance of dusk, stars nibble on the horizon.

MdBoing-boing, my favorite thing.