Sunday, July 25, 2010


I never set out to be a cat lover, but some 20 plus years ago a beautiful white cat walked into my arms and into my life and suddenly there I was: instant cat fan. Spaz and the second cat that followed him some seven years later, Calvin, were both strays that I could not resist. They adapted easily to the household and let me pet them, pick them up, hold and snuggle them to my heart's content. Although there were some bumps along the way, I could always count on their affection and company.

My current cat companions did not get that memo. You know--the one about how fabulous it is to be held and snuggled by their owners and to openly give and receive affection. Instead of being strays, all of my current felines were once feral who missed out on the socialization necessary to become well-adjusted pets. At random times they will all run through the house as if they were a herd of gazelles chased by a lion, and after they have knocked over everything in their path I come to discover the source of their panic was a random noise or a book falling off a shelf. It has taken years of work to get two of them at the point I can pet them at will, but picking up and holding my kitties is a gamble at best.

One of the cats, Simone, caught my eye years ago with her long white fur and big blue eyes. She looks like one big ball of fluff and the only thing that has stopped me from nuzzling my face in her tummy is the image of a late-night trip to an emergency room full of bites and scratches. I took her in when she was about 3 or 4 years of age, and that was 5 years ago. Although she has spent more than half of her life in my house, it feels either like an arranged marriage or some form of kitty d├ętente.

She is a beautifully well-mannered house guest. No accidents, no destructive behaviors just lots of love and affection…towards the other cats. Prior to my decision to take her in, if I had known the likelihood of taming an adult feral cat was so slim, I probably would have made a different decision. But, I took her in…for better or worse…and although the majority of time we have little or no contact, there are small glimmers of light.

Right now, she sits perched on the edge of the desk, not so much out of a need for companionship but instead looks dismayed that I came and disturbed her perch. In these rare scenarios, I use every form of bribery imaginable. Treats, wet cat food, catnip, diced chicken…you name it, I'm there. As my reward, she occasionally lets her guard down, and allows me to pet her. On a good day, she'll roll over and reveal her tummy while purring loudly. On a not so good day, she sits tense and anxious as I pet her, just waiting for the moment I will walk away. Last night, she let me have my way with her…and didn't run away.

So, as your reward here is a short clip of Simone (all in white) relaxed and sleepy with Matilda, my capricious little calico sitting on the corner of the desk. Yep, five years of hard work and persistence can lead to one immensely rewarding scratch under a chin.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm sure there is a lesson in here somewhere...

The most simple tasks, at times, can be the most difficult.  Or perhaps, what I envisioned as a simple task was grossly underestimated.  In any situation, this weekend was a comedy of errors, mistakes and minor bursts of frustration.  It all started with a desire to clean, which turned into an idea of rearranging furniture, which then created a domino effect throughout the house.  And now, tonight, it looks like the entire contents of a study were thrown up in the living room...which they were.

The expiration date on my computer has come and gone, and although I managed to eek out a year of use beyond my original plans, the last few months have been slow going.  That is, in terms of opening files, navigating the web and even turning on my laptop.  I hesitated at spending the extra money right now since I've been working on paying off bills but I realized my productivity at home was terrible because of the lumbering speed of my current computer.  So, there I was one night...on the phone with a stranger overseas...and yes, he sweet talked me into a new laptop, complete with a 20" monitor.  Did I feel guilty, used or a little dirty after our hour-long chat the night before?  No, in fact I felt giddy with excitement over the pending arrival of my goodies.  The only problem was the space or lack thereof in my study.

The study unfortunately has become more of a catch-all space.  So I decided it was time to get the nursery in order for the new baby arriving within the week and set my sights on doing it in one day; Saturday.  Friday night, I left work and headed off to IKEA with dreams of a new desk running through my brain.  I found it, fell in love with it and happily headed off to the car.  At which point I discovered my new desk top was about 4" wider than the interior of my car (who knew?)  I tried the trunk (with the fold down back seat), I tried every iteration of shoving it through the door and was almost on the verge of heading back in for a refund when I thought of opening the back windows.  With some maneuvering and a little pushing, I finally managed to wedge the desk top in the back seat, and out the passenger rear window.  The drive home was muggy, I was sweaty and tired, but thrilled at my resourcefulness.

I opted out of taking a shower on Friday (big mistake) and instead decided to move absolutely everything in my office out and into the living room.  I brought in boxes, shoved my papers and other junk inside and laid havoc on my once organized and spacious living room  The cats were in shock, I had to jump over boxes to sit down but my desk was safely inside the house and Saturday's plans were set.  The only thing left to move was the wooden frame couch that had been tucked into the study for years, and up until recently served as the home for a futon.

Saturday morning, before starting assembly of the desk I decided that bookcases were needed...two more to match a pair that I bought earlier in the year.  And that large bookcase that now looked out of place?  Well, I decided it would go out to the living room to replace a really bad and beat up bookcase that had migrated there in an earlier frenzy of redistributing household pieces.  I also decided that the bare bulb fixture in the study needed a new cover.  Off I went, to Target for bookcases and Home Depot for lamp parts.  When I lugged the over sized boxes for the bookcases into the car (thankfully fitting in the trunk) I kept thinking they didn't look like the same ones.  Same name, same price...but something didn't seem right.  Home Depot did not leave me feeling any more cozy.  The guy who helped me find the pieces for the light seemed helpful, but I kept thinking his solution was a little sketchy.  What the heck?  I was tired, hungry and really sweaty at this point and besides...he was the Home Depot guy, right?

Well, wrong.  The bookcases were close...but not the same as the ones I had.  I wrestled with the idea of going back to the store, but just could not bear another trip out.  I thought they were close enough, and the difference will not keep me up at night.  The light cover however was tragically wrong, although the size of the bolt was almost close that it made me sniffle a bit.  And then, because I love to add drama to any event I decided to make a quick alteration to my original plan and move a chest of drawers into the study to serve as a pseudo linen closet for the bathroom.  Off I went to dump the contents of the chest onto the bed, and floor and back I headed into the study.  At some point I realized that I smelled, really smelled.  Not in the mild perspiration, dewy post-workout smell but rather the OMG I have not had a shower in two days and things are going

But, I pushed my personal hygiene aside and plodded along.  That is until I went to assemble the bookcases and realized that although I have a cordless drill that works as a screwdriver...I no longer had the power cord to recharge the drill.  Why?  Because the men who came to my house in April to fix a simple door had absconded with the charger...not the drill...but the god damn charger!   My sweaty state was not helped by the next few minutes of jumping around cursing and my only consolation was the fact that the instructions for the bookcases advised against the use of power tools.  Two bookcases and one very sore arm and hand later, I had those puppies in place.  Now it was time to move the odd bookcase out...into the hallway...transfer all the books and goodies out of the old one and into the semi-new one.  The old one went out to the porch along with the old desktop (which truthfully was a door) and a door from the closet that I choose to remove.  Two doors and one bookcase later, I only needed the couch so I could move things into the garage.

At this point, the nagging frustration of my missing drill parts and the light fixture that seemed to taunt me with it's nakedness overcame my sensibilities and I decided to head off to Home Depot for another round of shopping.  I bought what I thought would be the solution for the light, and in a moment of sheer inspiration bought another light fixture.  I figured that changing it out would be less painful than the current game of finding the right size part (which...oddly enough is called a nipple...and the ones I had were too who says the Universe does not have a sense of humor?????)  I also found in another moment of inspiration, a universal charger that promised the ability to charge any size cordless battery.  It was cheaper than a new drill, so off I took my sweaty, smelly self.

Despite near-sheer exhaustion, I decided to push through and happily plugged the battery into the universal charger (with a promise of a 45 minute charge) and headed off to fix the light.  New hardware?  Nope, no such luck.  Plan B, replace fixture?  Nope, no luck either since I managed to pick up the one and (most likely) only package wherein someone had removed the fixture and repackaged the light cover only. Yeah, that meant another trip to HD in the morning. So, I turned my sights on moving the couch out of the room, down the hall and into the garage outside.  One attempt through the door made me realized why that couch had sat where it was for so long.  Why?  It barely fits through the door and to move it outside would require me moving things out the hallway, from the closet entrance, and from a large portion of the living room where I of course had put all my boxes of....well...crap.  Despite my best intentions I still knocked over things, ran into the wall and left a few bruises on my self.  However, everything made it to the garage--the doors, the bookcase, and the couch frame.

Now, I could focus on the desk and practically crawled on my knees back to the battery...hoping it had sufficiently charged.  What I discovered was that my universal charger did not include my battery in it's universe.  All I got was enough juice for one screw and as dirty as that sounds, it was just plain pitiful.  Can you imagine me sitting on the floor begging the drill to work just a little harder because I had to set 24 screws in the desk before it was ready.  And, at 45 minutes to do weekend task seemed doomed.  Undaunted I choose to hit the shower, grab some ice cream (as a consolation prize) and head to bed.

Sunday morning took a turn for the best when I discovered that my universal drill charger needed a bit longer with my drill.  Happily, I had all four desk legs up and attached in minutes.  I made quick work out of unpacking my new notebook docking station and second monitor and got ready to plug everything in.  Until I realized that there were only two plugs in the entire study (okay, there are three...but one dates back to the twenties and doesn't function) and those plugs are not on the wall my new desk sat.  At this point, I was ready to either dig a hole into the floor to run an extension cord or punch a hole in the wall to install another wall outlet.  However, with the help of a really long cord on my surge protector and a lot of masking tape I managed to snake the cord down one wall, around the corner and back under the desk.

At this point, I was feeling cocky.  I had overcome any and all obstacles (okay, minus the light that still is naked) for the weekend.  My new computer will have a lovely new home, everything is prepped and ready for it's arrival and all I need to do is clean and organize the clutter I managed to create in every other room of the house (you want a room, closet, kitchen, bathroom [don't ask], bedroom, garage and utility room).  Yes, Internet I managed to clean up one room in the house while simultaneously destructing every other available space.  All, in the name of organization.

But that wasn't the last glorious moment from this weekend.  After a well deserved and leisurely lunch, I stopped at Office Max to peruse the office goodies they had.  What caught my eye?  Well, I have a file cabinet (inherited) that has no frame on which to hang file folders.  (I may want to add a little note here about the wheels for the file cabinets that I cannot attach to the file cabinet because I lack the right hardware....but I won't go there today...although I did go there while in HD.)  Imagine my surprise when I found a replacement frame...reasonably fit securely in my file cabinet.   And in that one moment of great American consumerism, I realized that all the pains and mishaps of the weekend could be replaced with this frame, I made the purchase.  I know I may not have the house in order but, I will have a place on which to rest my file folders.

The only problem with this ending?  Did you guess it?  Yep Internet, wrong now I have a stack of things to return to stores and with those returns go my dreams of an easy task to install a new computer.  Hopefully when it actually arrives this week, we'll have a happy ending.