Pinky and Loaner

Loaner has grown very fat. She eats all she can, and asks for more. Perhaps she is pregnant. All I need do is glance out my kitchen window and I will see her sitting on the railing looking at me. Unwilling to grapple with the pet door, she waits to be noticed and let in. I wave, and we arrive at the same moment at the patio door. Her weight worries me. It might be that her owner has put her on a diet and so she turns to me or eats elsewhere. Perhaps I should keep my head down and pretend not to see her. As I think it I know it is impossible to ignore her.

One day I take it in my head to make a beef stew. All the good stews I used to prepare took hours of simmering that now seem absurd in my solitary existence, but this day I mean to have myself one of those.
Pinky watches the process of chopping, peeling, scraping, but when it comes to cutting the beef I have to flee around the counters ahead of her as I do when chopping shrimp.

I am going to show you, I say to Pinky, what a home-cooked meal tastes like.
As I dish out the stew, I set some aside on a plate for her. She sniffs, then turns her head aside and throws up.
Pinky, the food editor.

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East Bay SPCA

I went on a special tour of the East Bay SPCA in Oakland and brought with me extra towels I no longer need to donate.

We went from the new facilities, very streamlined, to the cats, dogs, and birds in their enclosures and as I expected it hurt my heart to see them there and being unable to take them home with me. I have been there too many times in the past when Tango didn’t come home and I went to see if they had him.

One little black kitten cried and came up as close as he could against the cage wires and I stuck my fingers through and stroked his little head. I almost cried too. Where I live now is no place for a kitten, who needs lots of space. Both of the kittens I had at the house used to gallop up and down just out of exuberance and energy to burn. My two rooms won’t cut it. And what will happen to it when I pass?

I’m still not sure it was a good idea to go on this tour. The pain lingers.

Breakfast maneuvers

It is always an ordeal when I try to apply Pinky’s monthly flea drops. Last month she struggled and got away from me. She stayed clear of me all day while I worried about how I would get this job done. I decided there was no way but to ambush her when she jumped on the bed, if she was still of a mind to join me there that night. Apparently, she believed she was safe on the bed, for she came. I clamped an arm around her and did the deed. At that she looked around at me, clearly in disbelief that I would stoop to such a betrayal of trust.

In a flash she was gone. My heart felt heavy as a tomb. Whether she was pussy cat or human, betraying a trust is not an easy sin to commit. She did not come back that night.

Next morning she did not climb to the kitchen windowsill for her breakfast, but watched me from the doorway. I could not read those green lantern-shine eyes. Do you want your breakfast? I tapped the saucer. She turned, went outside through the pet door. I pushed the saucer through the pet door and set it down on the mat, and she bent to eat. Next day, we were friends again, for she jumped up to the windowsill and watched me fix her breakfast. But when I put the plate on the sill she came down and hid under the furniture. I followed and set the saucer down, but then she moved to the pet door and went through, where she lingered, looking in at me.

Big light bulb over my head! She wanted to see her breakfast appear again through the pet door!

Shrimp treats

Pinky knows what those rustling noises mean. I am getting her two big shrimp out of the bag in the freezer. Before they are in the microwave to defrost, she has taken her place on the counter. Chopping the shrimp requires agility to keep ahead of her as I move from counter to counter to stovetop until the feast is ready. Watching her eat brings out every drop of the one-fourth Italian in me. “Mangia, mangia,” I say, beaming, my hands clasped over my stomach. It is a satisfaction life seldom affords the average cook.

The treat was intended to be once a week. That proved difficult. It seemed a long stretch to me, too. I spaced the treat to five days, then three days. Now it is every second day. This is where we stand, my last stand.

At the substitute, a teaspoon of ice cream mashed in my hand, she turns her back, though she does not leave the kitchen. It is a comment on lack of shrimp, but there is room to negotiate. I dab a little ice cream on her nose, which she licks clean. She moves a few inches away, and I dab some more ice cream. Finally, she turns and grudgingly approaches my cupped hand. In a few seconds, my palm is licked dry. I know I have spoiled her, yet still I smile like a fool. “Spoil” is a relative word: Pinky does not have to attend college, get a job, or move out on her own.

Sweet clarinet

We had a band come to entertain us at Lake Park where I live. The band was composed of 30 components of brass, clarinet, piano, flute, and an enthusiastic timpanist. Some of the musicians were elderly, others looking to be high school youngsters.

We stood for the opening Stars and Stripes (I did not kneel), and they were then off to a selection of Souza marches and the famous Elephant Walk. The brass overwhelmed the ensemble at times, the wind instruments uncoordinated once in a while, but we had nothing to do but simply enjoy it all.

And then….the conductor took his clarinet and gave a bluesy, smart performance that told me he was a sly old professional. He was so good that I yearned to know what famous bands he had performed in.

Kudos to all musicians!

Cat dreams

On cool nap days, Pinky lies bundled up and tucked in. Her back is to me. I poke her in the hip and say, “Come on, gimme a leg,” and she does. She sticks out a leg for me to hold.

And on another cool day, my one exposed hand was cold and I nudged her with it and said playfully, “Get this one under, too, please.” Before I knew it, she had swept that hand into her warm, furry haven.

Sometimes I awake to a sensation of a light touch across my face. It is Pinky, her back to me, as her tail sweeps back and forth.

I like to slide my feet under the blanket, under her, and bounce, hard, while singing, from South Pacific, “Talk about the moon, talk about the stars.” She hangs tight, her tail whipping about for balance.

One time at night she placed all four paws in my hand. I thought muzzily about this. Between dreams I mused about this cat who came into my life.

Why did she come to my door and look inside if she didn’t know me and was scared of me? Why follow me for days and days until that turning point when she spoke her piece?

Why did Loaner come inside and, without having been courted, show me such sweetness?