Au Auy and the night visitor

Au Au uses the water dish as a finger bowl. She skims a paw across the top, then licks it, again across the top, then licks it. A shortcut to personal grooming. One night we heard noises from the kitchen, and Au Au went to investigate. Since there are always noises in the kitchen, I wondered why Au Au bothered with this one. In a few seconds she was back, bounced on the bed, once, and ran off again.

Summoned,I got up to go see. She hung behind me. An animal of some kind streaked off so quickly I could not see what it was in the beam of my flashlight. I went back to bed, but Au Au did an unaccustomed thing. She crawled under the bed, only her tail showing.

In these Oakland hills in northern California, the invader could have been a fox, a squirrel, or the usual raccoon or skunk. We have opossums, which do not move quickly no matter how alarmed. Some nights we hear a cougar scream in the woods, and one evening as Renato and I rounded the curve on our road, our headlights caught the green gleam of a cougar’s eyes. The distance between us was about 100 feet. Renato braked, and we sat still, staring. The lion was bigger than a German Shepherd, a tawny color, and its rounded shoulders as it sat were bigger than my own, or my husband’s for that matter. Its supple tail flew behind it as it ran off.

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Nancy’s house cont’d

After I parked I gathered her up in my arms and started up the steps to Nancy’s. Her caregiver, waiting at the open door, remarked “I’m allergic to cats,” and left the house. I said, Tango has come to visit you, Nancy, and released her. Another error. Tango headed straight for the sofa and got under it.

Nancy said, “That’s terrific. Uh, what color was she?”

After about 20 minutes of chat I felt it was time to take Tango home, so I began to move furniture. A lamp fell over. A pile of magazines collapsed. A flap of upholstery stuck out, over Tango’s face, and I grabbed her.

Nancy hung my purse on one arm, put my car keys in my free hand, and I headed outside.

The ride home was the same, with Tango wrapped around my shoulders. Her sad song ceased as soon as she realized we were in our garage. She forgave me handily but I have still to forgive myself.

Gail, if you read this, you were so right, and I will never never do it again.

 

Tango visits Nancy….or something

“I know cats,” my friend Gail said. “Do not do it. It’s going to be a disaster.” Tango is a calm, friendly cat, I argued. She will take it very well, and I want to take her to Nancy. Nancy, my homebound friend, would love it. Nothing interesting has happened for her for a long time.

So I purchased a harness because I knew I could not carry both Tango–at least 12 pounds at last weighing–and the carrier. As a test the day before our trip I slipped it on Tango, who didn’t mind, though she walked oddly. All of a sudden she was bent almost to the floor. I called to her as she inched past me but she was intent on her progress across the rug. When I removed the harness she bounded upright and out of the house. For me, the experiment was working and I looked forward to our adventure next day.

On Sunday morning I fitted the harness on her again, only this time one of the straps would not go behind a front leg. No matter, I thought. We’ll be safe in the car. I clipped the leash on and picked her up, entered the garage, opened the car door, and set her inside.

She froze for an instant, then began distractedly to move about. She emitted a loud cry and I quickly got in. For the next two miles Tango’s voice filled the car. She climbed into the backseat, shedding the harness as she did so, then got onto my shoulders and wrapped herself around my neck. Her cries bored straight into my left ear.

I should have turned around and gone home then, but I was determined to do this. After all, we were almost at Nancy’s house.

More later…..

A stretch in endurance

There was to be a free concert in San Francisco, a carefree day sitting on the grass at Pier 27 and Rosemary, Corinne and I set out on BART from Oakland. To do that, we walked four blocks to the Broadway station. The car was crowded to suffocation. Where were all these people going to? The Marathon would be almost over.

We got off at the Hyatt Regency and crossed to the Embarcadero. My knees were already done in and I saw with dismay that we were only at Pier 1. My friends set a goodly pace and I kept up, refusing to complain. Finally at Pier 27 nearly a mile away, we sprawled on the grass and I knew I was never going to get up again. The concert was pleasant, the sky blue. The others went to the food truck while I watched their belongings. They brought me back an ice cream cone. I’d already had some almonds.

Back again to BART we walked slower, perhaps because my companions knew I was about to die. Off BART again on Broadway and 19th, the four blocks to home.
By then I was falling forward with each step.

Somebody, hang a medal on me.

Tango, a most amiable cat

Tango is large and rangy, with legs like a jack rabbit’s. Her coat is a deep orange with white belly and socks. Her voice squeezes out like this: EEUH, and sounds sad. I try to speak as she does and am rewarded by a startled look. She is also scared, affectionate, and needful. Despite her avoidance of the mole conclave that day by the lemon tree, she has followed the trail to the pet door.

Her appetite is bottomless. I am now purchasing two sacks of cat chow at a time. Of all the chairs there are in the house, she likes to lie on mine at the dining table. When having my breakfast, I must sit on the edge, often on her feet, which she likes. I reach behind and find a nose, a paw, and always a tongue. Even after weeks, she is uncertain of her welcome. She has been sensing my own uncertainty about having her as a frequent visitor, and I know I send out conflicting signals.

I am afraid Pinky might be feeling crowded. Between Tango and Au Au they clean out the food dish, leaving nothing for Pinky. The private food stash in the bedroom is no longer a secret. At night I awaken to crunching noises, Tango’s always louder than Au Au’s. Loaner, having once caught her tail in the pet door, enters the house only if the big door is open. Pinky does not get between the large cats and their food, and she grows so hungry that she has started waking me up at 5:30 for her breakfast. I pull the covers over my head but she is relentless, marching up and down my body, until I surrender at about 6:00.

After she eats, I have my own breakfast, and blearily read the newspaper, unless Tango is sitting on it and rubbing her face against mine. She likes to sample everything I drink, even my tea. Another time, she dipped a paw into my wine and had herself a drop or two. And she is the only cat who will drink from the dish of water I keep next to the food dish. The others go outside to the bird bath, which I must scrub every day.

Tango wishes she had fingers, I know. Her efforts to pick up objects of interest with her paw are futile, and so I help her. I feed her the pumpkin seeds she wants, one at a time, she chomping industriously. Then I discover a small pile of them on my lap. She had been spitting them out of the side of her mouth.

My Little Grass Shack

Yesterday we, the Trinity Troubadours, performed for the senior residents of Lake Park with a mixture of piano, flute, guitar, accordion and ukulele. Having taken up the ukulele only a couple of months ago, I practiced assiduously up to the time of the performance. Another newby, Dick Peters did the same. We sat beside each other in the back, thankfully.

We did pretty well up till one song that had so many chord changes so fast that I had to fake it, and then I noticed Dick was doing the same. He saw me looking over at him and we both collapsed in hysterics. I haven’t laughed that hard since high school.

My system must have created a zillion endorphins.

Tahiti

When Renato could tear himself away for a vacation, we embarked on a trip that, initially, seemed to be mostly in the air. We flew from Rio de Janeiro to Santiago, Chile, which had recently undergone a revolution. Our experience of it involved shortages of consumer goods, mainly cigarettes. Renato gave our waiter a couple and the man rushed outside to smoke them.

We toured their museum with the guidance of a man who offered his services outside the door. He said “Yes,” with a slow, thoughtful cadence, and it turned out that was the sole, single English word he knew.

Next, we flew to Easter Island, where we met that lovelorn woman who asked me to mail a letter to her lover. I have mentioned her before. The flight had arrived late and so we had no time to look at the giant stone heads. Then, on to Tahiti, where we stayed at a hotel near the clear, transparent water. We rented a car and went about the country roads lined with coconut palms and mango trees. Fallen fruit lay on the roadsides. What riches! I gathered armfuls of mangos and lugged them back to our hotel but had to leave them when we flew on to Honolulu.

I recall a gentle, salubrious air in Tahiti and a quiet like no other, and the tuna at an outdoor barbecue. That fish was five feet long and three feet thick. The women looked just like Gauguin’s portraits of them. We were outside a church when service ended and people began to exit the church. Every woman wore a big white flowered hat. I saw a breadfruit tree and longed to pick one.

Memories….