Inconveniences

Dan and I have a joke that we’d like to have two cats.

This has never actually happened in our married life.  Someone or something thinks the normal number of cats for the house is five, so when we lose one another is provided.  Sometimes the replacement comes a little ahead of the loss, so we end up over-catted for a few months. Right now we have five spread over two households and no new arrivals (knock on wood) which leads me to believe that when the kids move out we MIGHT actually get to two cats? Maybe.

It’s always in circumstances where they are least convenient, of course, because you know that’s how life happens.  Or something about the cat makes him really inconvenient.  For instance Havelock cat is a turkish van, in a family allergic to cats, and with me not able to clean every day to defuzz the house.  (I really need to train him to accept a bath a week, because he needs it, and it helps with my breathing.)  But Havey was skinny, had sores on his face from a fox attack, a broken tail and was covered in a thick layer of grease from eating off the dumpster of the Vietnamese restaurant next door.  We couldn’t leave him in the mini-golf course where people were hitting him with clubs for playing with the balls.

We were dealing with problems with middle school, I was contracted for six books, it was the last convenient time ever to deal with little half-feral kitten.

But he is our most affectionate/funniest cat, and the number of times he’s gotten one or the other of us out of a blue funk, including this year, when he climbs on us for pets when we’re really stressed and helps, have been more than I can count.  He’s a little entertainment system and life support in one.

If it comes to that, take Euclid (please, he’s more neurotic than he should be) whom we rescued from death row at the humane society, a year before nine eleven.  We really didn’t want to take him/didn’t need another cat, but he had a URI and their policy for that is to put them down.  He was a year old and very affectionate.  I didn’t know that through the days after 9/11 he’d help mend my broken heart.  And yes, I know that sounds loony, but it felt like everything was broken and wrong, till he curled in my lap.

Then there’s the kids.  Despite the fact both are very much wanted, they managed to arrive at the most inconvenient times possible.  Robert came not only when we became unemployed (in my case due to being put on bed rest) but also when the local economy had just taken a nose dive, so we spent the next two years moving around a lot and eventually across the country and paying mortgage/rent with so little money that we lived off bulk bits of chicken (sparing) and mega bags of frozen vegetables from I THINK Sam’s club (the company here in CO gave us a membership.  In the Carolinas we lived from side-of-the-road vegetable stands.)  Oh, yeah, and rice, because rice is cheap.

I suspect the weight we gained those years will never leave us, and it certainly finished turning my hair white.  I wouldn’t re-live that time for all the tea in China.  BUT twenty four years later, our kid is fun to hang out with and might eventually do something of worth in the world.

His brother too, was born when we moved twice in a year (I think the only reason we don’t have a third kid this year is that it’s physically impossible.  Even so, I keep hoping– er expecting to find a newborn in the milk cooler on the front porch.

Anyway, second kid is also fun to hang out with, and at 21 is not only a more or less declared Son of Martha but the voice of reason in his friends’ circle.

Then there’s friends.  it never rains but it pours.  If we’re tight on money, house/car need repairs, I’m feeling poorly, boys and Dan are swamped with work, that’s when a friend needs help, monetary or labor.

And yeah, we usually sigh, and retrench and help, because we’ve so often been helped (often by other people) when we needed.  I don’t think we’d have survived, otherwise.

I was thinking about that as I woke up.  I think part of being an adult is embracing the inconveniences, dealing with them, and often — in the case of cats and kids — after a while realizing they’re blessings, even when they aren’t.

Because the thing is I’ve seen people who turn their backs on every inconvenience, every cry for help, every opportunity to make someone’s day just a little better at little cost of time/effort.

And my experience is they pay for it.  Now, this is not a religious thing, mind you.  It’s a here and right in this world, thing.

People who live only for themselves and what’s most convenient/pleasurable might even end up well off, monetarily, but they usually are unhappy/sad/resentful people.

They’re the people who obsess on micro-aggressions and spend forever talking about how this or the other segment of the population should be eliminated.  The most benign obsess on their health and become nearly entertaining hypochondriacs, usually complaining of diseases never known to man. The less entertaining worry endlessly about their sexuality, or how someone looked at them on the street, which are less entertaining but more modern forms of hypochondria.

But behind it all there is this impression of almost hysterical despair, as they worry/complain they’re not getting what they should out of life.

It never occurs to them you get what you should out of life by starting out embracing inconveniences: kids, animals, friends.

I’m not so perfect in charity that I embrace EVERY inconvenience, and yes, I had to learn over time that there are people and things you can’t help.  You could pour all of yourself into helping a person or a situation with no improvement except that you lost your time.

BUT embracing some inconveniences is part of being an adult.  No, more than that, it’s part of being human.  You don’t get up in the morning and go look for trouble, but if you come across something that’s sorely wrong and you can help, you do so.

Note that this form of help, the form adults do, never involves screaming for someone else to help the person.  Oh, yes, if it’s beyond your ability and there is something you can do in terms of filling governmental forms or helping someone get more permanent help, you might do it.  Even if you disagree with government help, right now it is what it is, and taxes and regulations often prevent people from helping in person.

But if you come across someone who wants a meal and you go marching off demanding the government give free food to everyone, it’s just another way of avoiding the inconvenience, and avoiding dealing with real need, while still feeling “special” because you “understand the need” and lobby someone to help.

The help adults give is more concrete and less glorious.  You find a dog lost in traffic and you take it home, feed it, trace its owner and/or find him a home.  You hear a friend is going through tough times, so you cook a big meal and have the family over. You hear someone is having trouble making rent, and you forego that vacation you were going to take and forward the money.

The personal aspect of this keeps it from going out of control or consistently going to people/critters who won’t take advantage of this.

And of course, it doesn’t allow you to preen about your passion for social justice.  Mostly because you’re too busy with personal justice to do so.

But not only does it, little by little and imperceptibly make the world a better place, but it makes your life happier.  Yeah, okay, you might never have that $500 a day spa visit, but that would have passed in a day, while having used the money to help someone enmeshes you in the weft and warp of humanity.  Do a few of these, and you find you have a circle, who comes without your even needing to call and helps you before you even realized you needed help.  Like, say, my old writers group, watching my kids so Dan could be with me when I was in ICU for 11 days 21 years ago.  I had done very minor things for them along the line, including hosting the group and providing meals (when meeting was right after work on a week day.)  Their rush to help allowed Dan to be with me, which saved my life more than once.

And their cleaning the house when I finally came back home.  And brought us food for two weeks, while I recovered.

I was more than paid for those minor inconvenient kindnesses.

And when someone asks “Why are you bothering to do this?” The answer is “because I can.”

There might be a pay off in the future or not, but there is a pay off right now.  It makes you the kind of person who does what he/she can, not the kind of person to whines that there should be someone else doing something.

One tends to be much happier than the other, even if poorer and more strapped for time.

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99 responses to “Inconveniences

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    And when someone asks “Why are you bothering to do this?” The answer is “because I can.”

    In one of the Wearing The Cape books, a “tag-along” super is asking the other supers “Why are you doing this?” IE getting involved in a fight against evil supers when it wasn’t “their home/city”.

    They don’t answer her because to them IMO the real answer was “we’re needed here”.

    Oh in her defense, she did “do her part” in the battle even though she was a “Hollywood Hero” (one who while super, was more of an entertainer than an actual super-hero).

    • And most heroes break through because they are in physical danger, one in particular in the series broke through on realizing that people really, really, really needed a super — putting her in such mental distress that it works.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Yep, she was safe (while trapped in her car) but she thought about the munchkin in another car.

        So she “broke through”.

        Sadly, the munchkin (a little girl) was dead.

  2. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I have a belief that the legal system gets it wrong. In civil law, culpability is a pool of 100% that can then be parceled out among the parties: A is 80% responsible and must pay, B is 15% responsible and must pay less, and C is 5% responsible for their own injury.

    I believe that each person who could have prevented a problem is 100% responsible. If you let that sick cat go off and die, you have responsibility. Since no one can solve every problem, you still have to pick when and how and how much you help. But when you see the little body alongside the road, you’ll still know: I could’ve done something.

  3. We all (mostly – there may be a few psychopaths lurking unidentified) have an innate sense of what it means to be a mensch, a whole person, and that assuredly entails how one addresses inconveniences. Beyond doubt, nobody can share a life with a cat or a child or, for that matter, a spouse, sibling or deity,without inconveniences. The idea is to minimize the extent to which one is an inconvenience to others, and increase the amount one can be a convenience.

    • Hate to disagree, but I must. At least in part.

      People aren’t born with that idea, of being a whole and complete person. Children must be taught, by word and by deed, what it is to be fully human. You may find that other cultures do *not* teach their children charity, decency, the value of keeping one’s word when given, and gratitude. Some feral children I have had the misfortune to encounter certainly fall under this description. I do not recommend the experience.

      For the latter, I think you’ve got the nail on the head. Sharing strongly implies some inconvenience, I think, balanced by what you get in return. Little things like food and shelter, medical attention and, well, human attention seem rather small in comparison to the joy that friends, cats, dogs, horses and various other critters on two or four legs can give in return.

  4. Some folks know that it’s best to do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do. And explaining it to those who don’t, to the point they truly comprehend*, is.. difficult, at best.

    * “Understand” is avoided here – and many other places, as it can be taken – and mistaken – to mean ‘sympathize’ and/or ‘comprehend’ and can thus generate confusion:
    “You don’t understand(sympathize)!”
    “I understand(comprehend) perfectly!”

  5. There are two types of inconveniences. The ones you so eloquently describe, and which will always be with us in one guise or another; and those imposed by limitations of technology or “how things are done”. The people that make society go forward indeed *do* strive to eliminate the *second* kind. The drudgery in retyping a manuscript in neat copy is something I am sure none of us miss, nor the “joy” of parcels with time-critical items spending weeks in the mail or having to be hand-couriered because a guy named Fred Smith hadn’t dreamed up the concept of FedEx yet…

    • But, but, think of all the dissertation secretaries who were put out of work by word processing software!

      (They moved to administration and IT and send your dissertation back four times for formatting errors.)

      • Yes, the “moving horizon” effect. Things you could not afford to worry about in days of yore…

      • Speaking as someone who helps deal with grammatical/formatting errors in people’s documents…it *is* important… 😉

        (And frankly, I look at the mess that is called ‘file management’ in my office and think: boy, it would be nice if we had some people whose job it is to ensure that all the files–physical and digital–are organized coherently and consistently. So we really *could* use at least two secretaries in this office…)

        • In this case, the problem was the scientific formulae included characters that a digital reader (for blind or nearly so students) didn’t recognize. I didn’t get to hear what the final solution was, but grad student and prof were muttering into their beers about the ADA and just typing out the Greek or whatever for those specific characters and having the original in an addendum.

  6. This is how you help to create the world you live in. You cherish those around you and they (if they aren’t insane) cherish you in return.

  7. Robert arrived while you were on…..bed rest. Is THAT what you call it?

  8. Charlie Martin’s Buddhism columns on PJMedia introduced me to the useful concept of “idiot compassion”, acts that are ostensibly to help someone but are actually more about benefitting the giver than the recipient. Teaching a man to fish is compassion, giving a man a fish is idiot compassion. The Democrat Party is entirely populated by those who cannot distinguish between the two.

    • Do not assume that their preference for the latter means they cannot distinguish between the two. If they truly couldn’t tell one from the other there would, by random chance, be more instances of their enacting the first sort.

      • Ah, but giving him the fish is easier. The desire to keep him dependent can be subconscious.

      • Not necessarily. The thought process could be something along the lines of “Compassion makes people feel better. This makes me feel better. Therefore this is compassion.”

        • Reality Observer

          Not at all. A Democrat sees two people. One has four fish, the other one has no fish.

          They take three fish from the person who has four.

          They give one fish to the person who has none.

          Thus, there is equality.

          (Somehow, very few seem to notice that they keep two fish for themselves.)

  9. I was thumbing through, well, skimming the first few chapters of Roy Porter’s history of the English Enlightenment (entitled _Enlightenment_), and noted something I missed the first time I read it. That was, the insistence of the English writers and thinkers that people had to be in society. Staying inside on one’s own allowed troubles of the mind to breed and fester, while being bumped around with and by one’s fellows smoothed and tempered unhealthy tendencies. I wonder how many of the people who avoid “inconveniences” cocoon themselves, be it by associating only with like-minded individuals, or through electronic media, or otherwise not getting bumped and tumbled? “The dog’s too much trouble, so I’ll take it to the shelter.” “I don’t have time [modern English for ‘I do not wish to take the time’] so let someone else do it.” “We need a law to make society care for the needy.”

    • That’s one of the purposes of formal mourning: to give the bereaved a very strict structure of things where they do not have to think but do have to interact.

    • That parallels an argument, popular among Home Schoolers back when we were involved in that, for large families. Having to bump up against siblings constantly does much to polish the stones we call children.

      It also helps avoid the tendency to idolize members of the sex opposite. No guy who’s had to wait for his sisters to evacuate the bathroom is likely to have illusions about them being sugar, spice nor anything nice, just as no sister who has tripped over a brother’s sports gear nor collected his dirty laundry is prone to enter a relationship with a man thinking it will be all wonderful.

      • Having any siblings of the opposite sex will do for that. You don’t need a large number. Or, failing that, just become friends with a member of the opposite sex.
        You’ll figure out real quick that there’s a certain amount of weird.

    • That was, the insistence of the English writers and thinkers that people had to be in society. Staying inside on one’s own allowed troubles of the mind to breed and fester, while being bumped around with and by one’s fellows smoothed and tempered unhealthy tendencies.

      Reading the above, I was reminded of a series of novellas in Analog written by W. R. Thompson from circa 1989 to 1990. It was a sort of first contact series; I think they were “Maverick,” “Outlaw,” and “Nomad.” The above idea was generalized to cover groups of individuals and planetary societies. I would love to see it re-printed.

      • Reality Observer

        “Maverick,” “Varmint,” “Outlaw,” “Lost in Translation,” and “Roundup.” (The last was in 1998.) All part of the “Kya” series.

        I have “Varmint” and “Roundup” around here somewhere (my Analog collection is very spotty).

  10. c4c

        • Since we haven’t seen you around here much lately, I’ll answer that question seriously, and you can just ignore me if you were trying to join in the silliness:

          It seems that some months ago, WordPress lost the comment-following settings for a number of people, and they have turned to using the “C4C”, or “Comment for comments” in order to check the box for following comments on each post.

          Naturally, since this lot is nothing if not Odd, it has turned into somewhat of a game, with people diverging from the base comment and going off on tangents, throwing in references for any number of things, from Star Wars to guns.

        • c4c me2 I’m commenting for comments too.

  11. Mutual support seems to be necessary for any civilization to thrive. Here in the US we tend to see ‘mutual’ as everybody around; in China and may other places in the world, ‘mutual’ is limited to kin. As an American my inclination is to pitch in and help whenever I see trouble. My Chinese wife’s reaction is “don’t look and don’t get involved.”

    Me, I’m not only building civilization, I’m building the Kingdom of God, from time to time making whatever little piece of the world I can touch a bit easier, pleasanter, better. I shock people when I tell them that it doesn’t matter to me whether there is a reward in the hereafter, there is no better, higher or more noble way to live.

  12. The vet can give you a drug that, given daily to your feline,
    reduces the amount of dander produced. We had a cat for
    years although I am slightly allergic to the critters.
    Acepromazine, from the vet, helped with the dander storm.

    • The Other Sean

      When I initially read that I thought it said there was a drug that a vet can prescribe your feline that reduces the amount of danger produced. Given some of the felines I’ve lived with, that would have been greatly appreciated. I’ll never forget the night when I was a teen and I tripped over Whiskers, who had decided to sleep at the top of the steps. I stumbled down a couple steps and recovered. Whiskers went thud, thud, thud, thud, THUD, MRROWWW! Danger-reducing drugs would definitely have been appreciated by both of us. 🙂

      • We had a cat living with us, a sorta kinda Russian Blue who could never quite accept that his humans couldn’t see in the dark, with anticipatable consequences. Which is why, amongst the litany of his names was included the sobriquet “Dim.”

      • You’ve seen my gravatar. Fuzzy absolutely disappeared in the dark. I still have a picture of her the day I picked her up in the shelter. All you see is this clump of darkness with two gleaming eyes and a flash of purple tongue. One of my nightmares was if she ever got out at night headlights literally wouldn’t pick her up.

        If she hadn’t been used to Fuzzy, I was going to name her Shadow, as in “I have a little Shadow, who goes in and out with me…”

        • They do have their own reflectors which can be seen surprisingly far off. And they usually do look at the approaching car. Biggest dangers to a cat in night time are drivers who don’t notice much of anything and/or don’t care even if they see the bright spots which mean “eyes, probably cat”, and of course busy roads and streets when the cat can look only in one direction while cars are coming from both.

          (And if the bright spots seem to be about two meters or more off the ground and aren’t all that bright it’s probably a moose, so you damn well better be braking already even if seeing that means it’s still pretty far off or its eyes would not have caught the light of your headlights. Yes, has happened – okay, okay, in my case European elk would be the more correct name – yes I figured it out in time to slow to a crawl before getting close to it. Although it did not go on to the road, just stood there right next to it. But you never know with animals, especially those ones. They might do anything. Or nothing.)

          • In the South, it’s usually white tail deer. I worked with a lady a few years ago whose husband was a rural vet. Had one run out in front of his car. It tried to jump clear, which resulted in him and the deer in the back seat after it cleared the hood but went through the windshield. Two years later and he was still having his face rebuilt.

            • Oh yeah. Faleen (a corn-fed doe) cost me $4000 worth of repairs after hitting my car one night on a highway near a river valley. The deputy said they are so thick that in hunting season the deputies and Highway Patrol carry deer tags, so you can claim the rack or other bits if you want to.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              And the deer frequently don’t look at the headlights until the car is nearly on top of them.

              Another problem with whitetail deer is that they try to run across the road at the last second. I have a theory that this normally happens when the rest of the group is already across the road and the one remaining on the other side is afraid that it’s about to be cut off from the rest, but no one seems to think that’s likely.

              • We have those too, and roe deer. The one I hit last September was, I think, a roe deer buck as it was quite small and had antlers so not a young whitetail. Didn’t saw its behind before it ran into the side of the car (if they run away whitetails show that white tail, roe deer don’t, and it can be kind of hard to tell them apart otherwise, at least from a distance. Roe are smaller, but not so much smaller it would be always obvious, and my accident happened at night and while it took a while for the animal to leave it was not in the car headlights so I could not see it all that well, it was just a dark shape struggling on the side of the road). I was lucky, the only damage on my side was that the car got one tiny teeny dent in it (and it’s not mine anyway, I use a company car when I do the paper routes) but the deer probably was hurt pretty badly although it did walk away before the police got there – but it walked, didn’t run, and it took a while before it even got back on its feet. It was probably, I hope, tracked down and shot the next day, the police told me they’d contact the local hunters.

                I really wished I could have put it down on the spot. I don’t like the idea of an injured animal in pain for hours.

                But considering how many of those animals I see weekly on that part of that paper route I guess hitting one was kind of in the inevitable sooner or later category. I do hope I won’t get a repeat, at least not soon.

                And besides those two types of deer there, yep, moose. Largest group I have seen so far had six animals in it, looking fat and happy in the very early morning twilight while eating some farmers grain before it had been harvested. Well, the four which hardly bothered to glance at me when I drove past but the one with two half grown calves did run, fortunately away from the road (moose pileup on your car… ugh 😀 ).

      • We have a recently-rescued kitty who spends most of his time hiding under the coffee table (I am going to have to knuckle down and attempt some of the more drastic and time-consuming methods of forcing a cease-fire and mutual co-existence between him and the other cats)…and he leaves his very long tail hanging out, where it gets stepped on, frequently. He complains very loudly about it, but never moves it. I think naming him “Sir Isaac Newton” has turned out to be a mistake, but it’s too late now…

        • What would those drastic measures be? My kitten has grown into a rather heavyset teenage tom (guy will lose his balls the second I have the time to take him to a vet, but until the end of January I have a work schedule which may spare his manhood for the duration of this month. Not a day longer though. Should have got it done by November, he was plenty old enough by then, but I was kind of busy with things even before I got the temp job on top of my regular one), and resumed terrorizing the older small lady of the household. They can sort of coexist under supervision for a few hours at a time, but sooner or later the young criminal will not be able to resist the temptation of playing where the older cat ends up in the role of the one being chased.

          Open to all suggestions.

          • Alas, Newton appears to have been already fixed. (In fact, I am 95% certain that he was abandoned by previous owners, which may explain some of his trust Issues.) So that’s not the problem. However, he and the two other (fixed) male cats in the house have declared war, and it’s escalated to peeing on things they shouldn’t. I started off with pheromone collars, but those aren’t helping. I’ve escalated to pheromone plugins (so far, just in the living room and the kitchen, because Newton won’t venture upstairs without an all out war at this point, and also those things are damned expensive) and have been rubbing all the kitties (four total) down with the same tea towel at least twice a day. (This is supposed to make them all smell the same, and so remove the ‘alien intruder’ smell.) So far, fights seem to have lessened, but Newton has also refused to budge from his post (the spot in the kitchen where we feed him) for two days, and there is still much hostility evident whenever one or the other of the twins (our two other males are sibs, and both are ginger tabbies) comes into view. (He also grumps mightily over being hauled out and cuddled–but he’s not getting a say in this, as he apparently needs to be taught that humans aren’t going to hurt him, and women in particular are not The Enemy. I do wonder about his previous life. But at least he’s too polite to do much more than growl and wail at being cuddled, though I occasionally end up with minor scratches/punctures.)

            However, to remove the hostility altogether, I’m probably going to have to go with the ‘jailtime’ approach: I’ll get a large dog crate, put food/water/litter in it and park it in a secure room (my bedroom, probably) and park one of the combatants in there while having the other locked in the same room (also with food/water/litter). They can see/smell each other, but can’t physically interact. I’ll do this every day for a week, switching out which cat is in “jail.” Then I’ll attempt to have both out in the room together at the same time with me present and toys and treats on hand. If hostility surfaces again, it’s back to jail. Rinse and repeat until they can at least tolerate the other’s presence.

            The only tricky thing here is that there are THREE cats having a war, with the fourth remaining aloof (literally, since she is our ‘up’ cat and spends much of her time napping on high shelves.). I may end up having to get *two* crates, so two are in “jail” with the third (or other two) who are not actively hostile to each other free in the room.

            I did not want a fourth cat. I am not the one who brought him home. And the one who DID bring him home couldn’t be bothered to do all of this, so of course it falls to me, because I am the family cat-whisperer. ::scowls:: However, I will be damned if I let that poor cat be abandoned AGAIN.

            I don’t suppose there’s anyone in the market for a new black kitty? He’s really quite lovely when he’s not feeling threatened/at war, and absolutely hilarious to watch while playing. I’d be willing to rehome him to a loving home (he tolerates dogs, but clearly has issues with other cats) but I am not willing to take him to the shelter, low-kill or not (because he’s mostly-grown, and also black cats are apparently hard to find homes for–which I find weird). I’m in the Wyoming/Colorado area, so on the off chance there is a Hun looking for a fuzzy…I am willing to drive and meet someone to find him a good home! (He’s already fixed, and very healthy. We think he’s about half-grown, and looks to be on his way to being a very LARGE black cat. At the moment, he’s a bottomless pit, and is adorably pitiful when his bowl is empty…)

            Barring finding him a new home, though, I am determined to broker peace, dammit!

            • Wayne Blackburn

              I certainly don’t know the effectiveness of the “jailtime” approach, but your description causes me some concern – if they can still get at each other through the bars, it could turn even uglier than if you left them alone to fight it out, with the possibility of getting their claws stuck in the bars and whatnot. You might want to consider a method of keeping a discreet separation between them.

          • Sara the Red

            As regards your kitty, Pohjalainen…sounds like your problem is primarily ‘non-neutered male cat’ combined with being still mostly a kitten. Probably his aggressiveness will lessen once his balls are no longer in existence, but he may still annoy the old lady because he’s young and exuberant. I’d recommend making sure you set aside playtime between him and you as close to every day as you can manage (and make sure to give old lady lots of attention too, so no one gets it in their head that one cat is getting more love than the other) to bleed off some of that energy. 😀

            (My problem is trying to get my almost 18lb super-lazy ginger rug to actually get off his butt and play. His brother plays fetch and catch, but Italics just does not give one crap about anything…unless there is turkey or coffee ice cream present.)

            • Thanks. I hope so. I might try that crate approach if things don’t start to improve in a few months after his balls are gone. Currently one of the problems is that the old girl has gotten a _very_ unfavorable impression of the newcomer, right now she starts to hiss every time she catches even a glimpse of him. They actually did sort of get along for a few weeks during last fall, before the guy got bigger than her and then realized she will always run if he jumps at her.

              • Sara the Red

                Yeah, that could be problematic. Heck, the twins and our one female cat have loathed one another since we brought them home. It was before we could afford to fix her, so she was in heat. They were kittens, so took one look at her and thought “big toy!” to which she reacted…badly.

                I’m hoping the jailtime thing works. I’ve never tried it before–usually, when we’ve brought kitties home they were either all kittens and/or knew each other already or–as with our lady and the twins–learned to ignore each other most of the time. This is the first time we’ve had such long ongoing hostilities. Still, I’ve read about the method in more than one cat psychology book/article, so here’s hoping!

                • I smack noses when they jump the old or frail. As a result our household order is highly unnatural for cats. Old lady and old gentleman eat first. When they’re done the young, vigorous and in one case purring buzzsaw get to eat.

                  • For the less agile among us, a squirt gun (possibly loaded with sulphur water) acts as an effective scolding method for those times you just can’t lurch up from your chair in time to express your opposition..

                    • I use the squirt gun, but right now the guy is being very, very stubborn. He stops when he gets squirted, most times, but it doesn’t deter him for long, so he ends up in jail (bathroom) almost immediately after the first attack, and I have to keep him in there when I’m out, sleeping or doing anything which might prevent me from interfering. But hopefully he will start to calm down a bit after the hormonal triggers are gone.

                      He also seems to have a tendency towards gaining weight, so I suppose it’s possible my next problem here is one big white snowball snoring somewhere I’m trying to get to move a bit. 🙂

                    • I’ve not ever had much success with the squirtgun–it just seems to make them sneaky and take it where I’m not around/can’t see it/can’t get there in time. I may yet have to try the smacking noses thing to get Newton and Beckham to stop their war. I’m hoping the jail method might actually allow for something better than ‘hostile ignoring’…

                    • We had a cat, Pete, who loved the squirt gun. This is weird.

            • Have you tried a laser pointer?

              • I have. He just gives me this Look like ‘you expect me to chase THAT?? Stupid human.’

                I’ve ordered a puzzle-feeder, and whilst I’m doing the jail-time routine to lower hostilities, I’ll introduce it to the cat who is at liberty in my room. I’ve read good things about them, and I’m hoping that the mental stimulation of having to actually work a bit for his food will help lazy-cat become less lazy and more willing to play (and therefore exercise).

  13. Laura Montgomery

    Than you for this post, Sarah. Needed this one today.

  14. Everything you write about life is so true and so inspiring. I am simply in awe of you. I hope I raise my girls as well as you have raised your boys. Fortunately, they have a Maltese mother who has a lot of same southern European values that you do.

  15. Cats learn to enjoy a bath, and eventually insist on it; at least ours did. Roberta is allergic to cats, so when my cat that I had as an undergraduate — found him in a snowbank in Iowa — decided he was old enough and went off to wherever old friends go to die, we didn’t have one until our second son was almost in high school. He rescued Samantha from some boys who thought it would be fun to torture a kitten, and of course I discovered this pitiful creature he was trying ti hide, and of course after that we had a cat. And a Husky dog, who had to be told that he couldn’t eat the cat. They had a somewhat standoffish relationship, mutual tolerance mostly, until that Husky died and we got a Husky puppy who thought Samantha was his big sister. She encouraged him to think that way, and they chased each other while the dog was cat-sized. Eventually Sasha was very protective of his cat, so much so that she could come into the house and get him to follow her out the doggy door to chase away other cats who might come into her yard.

    Roberta’s allergies got worse, and it was clear that Samantha would have to be bathed. I put on my leather motorcycle jacket, filled the left double-sink with warm water and the right one with warm soapy water, scooped up the cat, and put her in the suds. She protested, but to no avail, and then she realized it was warm and she had the attention of the entire family, me, Roberta, and all four of the boys. And after the suds was more warm water to rinse, and warmed towels to dry her, and comb and brush. The next time there was no protest at all. And after that she looked forward to her twice a week bath.
    \
    The secret was to fill the sinks with warm water, so she never heard and faucets going while she was in it, and she didn’t see water going down the drain. That latter is the kids’ theory; I won’t say cats reason that well. I won’t say they don’t either. But Samantha very much enjoyed her baths and the subsequent attention, and it didn’t take that long for her to discover it.

    The dog never did like baths, but we have a good groomer in the neighborhood that none of the dogs has ever objected going to.

    • Athena T Cat goes to the cat spa once a month. And then another cat’s worth of fur comes out over 24 hours following the Great De-dandering. It helps, except the two times a year when she “blows fur” and sheds both her coats.

    • Summer before last, the fleas got so bad in our area that I had to bathe the cats in addition to using Frontline because the bugs were swarming inside even though I was spraying nearly daily with HotShot Natural Home Insect Control (lemongrass oil is the active ingredient and it smells a lot like wintergreen rather than the nasty chemical smell from other insecticides.) First I started by taking a cat into the shower with me, wetting the cat, rubbing the flea shampoo all over and then rinsing the cat. They both would tuck their heads under my arm to hide from the water. They liked the full-body massage, but why did I have to get them all wet first? Eventually, I switched to washing them in the kitchen sink, using the spray attachment to rinse them. I always made sure to give them kitty treats after toweling them dry, to reward them for putting up with my weirdness. One good thing about this is that my cats don’t get up on the kitchen counter. At least I’ve never seen them up there willingly. 😉

    • We had a Maine Coon-type cat who learned to tolerate baths, mostly because his trust in his people was so strong that he would accept whatever indignity imposed by us.

      This was a cat who, after being brought home from the vet with his back leg in a cast after an unfortunate interaction with a car, refused to remain in his containment area but insisted on climbing onto the bed so he could sleep with his people. After the cast’s removal he would lie with the bad side down — which had to be painful — rather than expose its shaven condition.

    • I should try that on Havelock.

  16. I think you’re doing this math wrong, Sarah. Our cats have two humans, and luckily they haven’t expressed any desire for more yet.

  17. On a tangentally related note of those who seek to be offended (adding that it’s Vile770 is only somewhat redundant, and won’t bother linking)


    I’ve talked to a couple of book store owners in Toronto and someone is sending out Jim Hines roundup of the SP/RP affair. As a result, they are stopping making orders for Correia, Wright, Torgersen, Williamson and others of the worst broadcasters who have supported homophobic statements. I would assume the originator is part of Toronto’s gay community (which was oddly intertwined for years when Baka Books and the GLAAD bookstore were next door). It’s only the independents that I’ve heard so far, but if it hits Book City or Indigo, that could be a big repercussion. – Dexfarkin on January 2, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    And further down puppy-related authors deserve to have their work blocked out and not made available for sale.

    Also priceless quotes on how we can’t possibly have read Seveneves or other Stephenson work or we wouldn’t actually recommend it, how we’re just dupes following Larry/etc because we want to be part of a cause and don’t think, etc….

    • I’m very very interested in having them show my support for ANY homophobic statements. It would be fascinating if this had ever happened outside their heads.
      I mean it would be horrible for them to seek to destroy my career due to my opinions. BUT for them to attempt to destroy my career because Green Jello Volcano Penguins is … so horrifying as to be fascinating.

      • Yeah – I know – somehow listing you, Larry, MadMike, etc. as homophobic is beyond nuts in any world where “homophobic” means “whatever they say it does, no more, no less” (i.e., you’re a meanie poopy-head)

        But as Humpty observed, the issue isn’t how can words mean so many things, but who is to be master.

      • Is Green Jello Volcano Penguins a followup in some way to Super Lamb Banana?

    • I wonder if there isn’t a cause for suing Mr Hines for libel, defamation, and tortious interference with a business relationship / contract.

      • Wouldn’t that be great, (alas, costly…) to have a legal decision to point to to saying, “Their claims are utter bilge – and the law says so.”

        • Given that it may impact Baen’s bottom line? That would be at least one corperation’s legal staff, which is much harder to get rid of than what a solo or team of authors can afford.

          • It is a wonderful thing to have legal muscle on salary.

            OTOH, I suspect Baen has its legal talent on retainer, not salary, and more accustomed to contract issues than this type of tort.

            It has been quite some time since I was familiar with the statutes covering conspiracy, racketeering and other such coordinated criminality, and I certainly never paid attention to Canadian practice in such regard, but it might be an interesting path to explore in this circumstance.

            • My understanding of how legal help is retained is somewhat iffy. I’m a geologist not a lawyer. If it goes this way, yeah, I could see lawyers getting called out.

      • It’s Canada. Their hate speech laws are an absolute morass. Probably why it’s being done up there.

  18. Hmmm – methinks I got dumped into spam.

    Sarah – if you want I’ll contact you privately for verification, but I’d decided to stop using my real name around these parts.

  19. For a day now I have been haunted by this marvelous George MacDonald Fraser line, beautifully read by Richard Chamberlain’s D’Artagnan in Richard Lester’s 1973 film of The Three Musketeers:

    “Now, that man in his time has insulted me, broken my father’s sword, had me clubbed to the ground, laid violent hands on the woman I love! He is inconvenient.”

    My regrets that I am unable to procur a clip.

    • Quibble: D’Artagnan was Michael York. Chamberlain was Aramis, Finney was Porthos and Oliver Reed was FOREVER Athos.

      • Dang! I knew that, but the trivial retrieval program malfunctioned, pulling up the wrong player. What’s even more annoying, I had been going through the listing of Michael’s trying to find the correct one, then gave up upon accessing the film’s quote page. Dang, dang, double-ding dang!

        Mea culpa, me maxima culpa.

        In penance, allow me to proffer Athos’ summary of that inconvenient man:
        “Let me tell you something about this…inconvenient gentleman of yours. His name is Rochefort. He’s the Cardinal’s living blade, and he is deadly. And, as for this Rochefort, if you see him walking on the other side of the road one day, don’t bother to cross it, that’s all.”

        • Richard Chamberlain has had so superb a career, from playing the leads in stylish productions of The Count of Monte-Cristo (1975) The Man in the Iron Mask (1977) to turning up as Archie Leach, Parker’s mentor on Leverage that it is quite unnecessary to enhance it with credits not his own.

          To correct one minor transgression of Richard’s, Porthos in that film was created by Frank Finlay, not Finney, and a delight in that pair of films, as he also was as Abraham van Helsing opposite Louis Jourdan’s Count Dracula in 1977 and as Casanova in the 1971 BBC production, written by Dennis “The Singing Detective” Potter.

  20. Deborah was in a play with Michael York once where she said he showed commendable savoir-faire while having his leg eaten by a large leopard.

  21. Cats – the number two seemed to be correct once our chick left the nest. Until then it was anywhere from two to 13 – worst time was losing seven kittens within one week to Feline Leukemia.
    Now it’s just two again and it IS funny; lose one and another drifts into the yard to replace it.
    The Great and Terrible Bear(just ask the vet and all of his techs) came into the yard after(we figured) his humans had departed the neighborhood and forgot him – and after we had lost one of the other of the previous two. A large mass of long black hair with really large green eyes, he was cool as long as you didn’t touch his hindquarters. That would get one a verbal warning – with claws if a second was necessary. Luckily he’s pretty much gotten over that.
    Then, the Gordon, who was a very young, white calico kitten complaining outside the fence for a couple of days. We got her right at the back edge of the socializing time so when she’s outside she is the mighty Hunter of Things That Move – unless they also make noise, then she gets real spooky.
    They both miss the alpha female(my wife) who left this vale about six months ago, but we help each other over the rough spots.

  22. Heh. I always thought that was covered by the bit that goes: “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead…”

    Like most of the thou shalt and shalt nots, one discovers betimes that they’re rather a better guide for a fufilling and joyful life a buzzkill.

    • John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”