Thursday, May 25, 2017

Reincarnated

I woke up with Blitz's shoulder pressed into the palm of my hand. I hadn't fallen asleep that way. He was further from me when I fell asleep. He had shifted, while I was unconscious, to having as much of his body as possible touching my hand.

Everyone needs to be touched.

Yesterday, I had stopped in at Petco to get a couple of cans of kitten food. Blitz won't eat the stuff I bought. I bought a case of it and he'd happily chowed down a third of it. Then one day, I put a heaping spoonful into a tiny blue and white bowl I'd bought from Uwajimaya. Yes. This kitten eats from lovely bowls. I hadn't planned on it, but I'm a woman who has interesting rocks I found in a crystal bowl my mother gave me. She would be appalled if she knew.

And that one day, Blitz would no longer eat the kitten food that was so yummy the day before. Note to self - never buy the same kitten food twice. Never ever buy a case.

Happily, Teddy snuck into the kitchen later on and wolfed down the awful stuff.

I'm still stuck with two-thirds of a case of kitten food that the kitten will no longer eat. So, I headed to Petco to try something else.

At Petco, I always stop in to see what cats need to be adopted. If there are no attendants, I talk to them and stick my finger into the tiny holes if they want to be petted. Sometimes they want that and sometimes they are too frightened. I get that. People are scary. You can't just trust a person because he comes up to you and talks quietly into your ear. People are more complicated than that.

Yesterday, when I went to look in on the cats, an attendant had a cat out of her kennel. She was gorgeous. I knew her. At least I knew her in a previous incarnation. She was my angel.

"Can I come in?" I asked. The sign said they weren't open for visitors for another hour.

"Sure. This is a rest period for the cats, but come in anyway." Was I a prospective adopter? She wouldn't want to lose someone ready to bring home a cat.

And the cat came over to be petted. And petted. And petted.

I held back tears.

During my freshman year in college, my roommate announced one day that she was going to the Humane Society to adopt a cat.

"But animals aren't allowed in the dorm rooms," I said.

"I know. So, you won't tell anyone."

She was adamant and so I was not surprised that afternoon when she came home with a gorgeous cat. The cat had long luxurious fur. She had a white bib and feet and gray and tan calico. She had sharp green eyes like my roommate. They were perfect for each other, two of the beautiful people. My roommate named her Angel.

Within a week, Angel had peed on my pillow twice and broken the perfect clay pitcher my sister had made for me. You should never bring anything really nice to a dorm. Roommates and their cats were certain to ruin them for you.

Angel, my roommate told me, had come from an abusive home. She only peed on my pillow because she was afraid.

But I'd been asleep at the time. What the hell did she have to be afraid of while I was asleep? So that night, when my roommate was asleep and Angel snuck over to my bed to presumably squat on my pillow, I grabbed hold of her. I growled a little and whispered, "If you have any intention of staying in this room, you will stop peeing on my pillow. Forever." She stared back at me.

Then, I petted her long fur and told her she would be okay here. If she stopped the peeing.

And you know what? She never peed on anything except into a potted plant that I liked ever again.

She still broke things though, a small mirror my sister had made, a replacement pitcher, a vase. If I was studying too much and not paying sufficient attention to her, she'd push something breakable. I'd look up. She'd stop. I'd look back at my work and she'd push it again, closer to the edge of the desk. I'd look up, glaring at her. The edge of my vase was hanging off the desk.

"You wouldn't dare."

"I would." And she'd push it a little more.

Angel was interested in gravity. And the center of gravity. When she pushed it one more bit and the center of gravity hung too far over open space, it toppled off the desk and crashed in such a lovely way, pieces scattering across the floor.

That got my attention. Then, as I cleaned, Angel would thread through my feet and hands to get all of the touching that she needed.

She was a needy child. Regular touching wasn't enough for her. You had to put both hands into the job. You needed to stare at her with love and adoration while you petted Angel. Angel had to be the center of your universe at least four or five times a day. After about six months of staring into her eyes this way, I became Angel's person. It was inevitable. My roommate loved her and needed her, but Angel belonged to me. Or, more clearly, I belonged to Angel, at her service until death do us part.

There was a marriage of sorts. It feels good to be bonded to another creature in this lonely world. To her, I was beautiful no matter how hard my roommate worked to make me feel fat and stupid. Angel knew better. Angel snuggled into my sweater drawer and seldom crossed the room.

And she hadn't changed a bit in her newest incarnation. She still demanded two hands and a deep hypnotizing gaze. She stayed interested in being petted long after another cat would swat your hand and walk away. She still loved me even though death had taken her away from me and I couldn't care for her properly while she was gone.

I looked up at the attendant.

"I can't take her home. I really can't. We're full. We have two cats and a dog already." Angel was trying to hypnotize me. I could feel it.

"She doesn't like dogs."

I didn't correct the woman. All cats love my Teddy. All cats are the boss of my sweet Teddy and they know he is absolutely no threat to them.

But our house is truly full. Mike would not let me bring home another cat. He didn't really want the last one, the one who snuggles up against the palm of my hand while I sleep. If I brought home another cat, Mike would start calling me the crazy cat lady. I would hate that.

I would hate it because it's true.

Thank you for listening, jb

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Afraid of the Dark



I am afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of tight spaces, and I am terrified of being held under water. These days, I usually swim alone or sometimes with Mike or Nick, people I trust, though I had a couple of moments there when Nick was learning to swim and clutched at me for buoyancy. Mostly I taught him to swim in chest-high water but once or twice he caught me off my feet and I had to work to keep from thrashing about in the pool and hitting him.

As for spaces, I don’t do much caving these days and only have a bit of trouble in an MRI machine or on the aisle seat on a plane when the flight attendants park the drink cart to block me in. For both of these occasions, I’ve discovered that closing my eyes and imagining that I float near the beach in an ocean bay can keep me sane for the few minutes it takes for things to open up again.

As for the dark, I still struggle. The movie, I Am Legend, didn’t help. Mike tells me it wasn’t that scary, but that movie cornered me for years.

I could tell you the origin of every single one of these phobias, being held under water until my lungs felt like they were going to explode, being coerced to crawl through a hollow log in exchange for a stick of gum, and being forced to practice piano in the dark.

I blame my brother.

When I was about seven, I was required to practice piano for a half an hour each night on the old upright grand in our basement. It was a cold, dark basement with casement windows and that concrete smell that always associates itself with dank memories. If I tried to look out the windows, I saw leaves and a scrim of dirt.

The worst part was that the light switch for the room hung at the landing of the concrete stairs just outside the door of the basement. I had yet to discover the courage to go into the hall to my father’s den and turn on the other light there.

This layout gave my brother free reign to capture and torture me while I played. He’d wait until he was sure I wasn’t standing by the door, until I was in the middle of a scale then switch the light off and then on again. Then, he’d switch it off and walk up three steps to the heating duct and practically press his lips to the dusty vent.

“Frankenstein,” he would whisper. “Frankenstein,” he would say with drama, holding the last syllable out with a tremor. The word shivered and reverberated through the ducts until it came alive in my imagination, wolves and wild cyborgs both with red eyes, worms and snakes slithered down the hall behind me until they waited just behind my piano stool.

If I stopped playing, my mother would yell through the floor for me to keep practicing until my half hour was up. Those were the longest half-hours of my life.

I learned to memorize very quickly and played as best as I could while half-turned on the swivel stool so that my poor eyes could discern any light that drifted from the casement windows. It was always dim in that basement, but at night passing cars or lightning played tricks on my eyes.

I tried to remember the positions of each item in the room, chairs, tables, toys, and I prayed they hadn’t shifted when the next streak of light illuminated the room. Tiny reflections became eyes. Invariably, I thought I saw minuscule differences in the flashed scenes. That chair with the black shadow behind it had shifted toward me. Some tinker toys had been removed from the path.

In those moments, in that dark or dim room, I lived an Alfred Hitchcock life, altered reality, even after my brother gave up whispering into the duct and left me paralyzed in the dark, waiting for someone to come down to watch TV.

I blame my mother too.

She requested that anyone wanting to watch TV wait until I was done practicing. One half hour of practicing daily. I never had the courage to walk across the room in the dark to find the light switch on the landing or in the hall. If I moved, the predators could see me clearly. If I stopped playing the keys, they would be able to locate my breathing.

By the time anyone came, I sat at the piano, still playing for the company, but with tears in my eyes. I always dashed them away because my brother had called me a baby too many times for me to show my fear.

I still imagine creatures, usually rabid people, coming around a dark corner like the one to that hallway. I still don’t like that place in my mother’s house, all that terror built up in one place, making the veil between reality and imagination very thin. Anything can make its way through dimensions where terror resides.

But now, I have some sort of angels that accompany me. At night, when I walk through my dark hallways, avoiding the desire to run back and forth turning lights on ahead before turning lights off behind me, I turn the flash of my iPhone on so I won’t trip over anything. That light is no help against night’s creatures. None. It only reminds me of the man with the pen light who tried to break into my car one night.

I always check to make sure the front door is locked and the reflection of that light in the window takes my breath, as does the possibility in the eerie light that the doorknob will slowly turn as if someone on the other side was teasing me, about to shift inside.

No. That light is no help.

What reassures me is the way Blitz’s furry feet patter down the stairs. He is excited to get a midnight snack, some kitten kibbles with tuna flakes on top. And Teddy, pounds down the stairs knowing he’s about to get one of his hypoallergenic cookies before snuggling into his bed next to my bed. Those clicking toenails need to be clipped, but not until tomorrow when I am more awake.

I am not alone in this darkness. The predators on the other side of the veil can’t find me here in the light of the good company I keep.

Thank you for listening, jb

The Inattentive Mom

As I made my smoothie this morning, a fresh ice cube fell, bounced, then skittered across the floor. I'm not a morning person. I'm just not. My hands don't function before 6:00 am. My mind... Well, my mind doesn't work a lot of the time.

 I stood and stared dumbly at it lying there. Blitz came running into the kitchen.

"New cat toys?"

I wondered briefly at him batting around an ice cube, nodded my okay, and went back to trying to get the blender lid screwed onto the top of my cup.

"Don't do it." Seth's cat voice seemed to come from the other room.

I looked up, as if through the wall to the living room and went back to my smoothie. That thing never threads. Wrong twice, then lefty-loosey, lefty-loosey, lefty-loosey until both sides seated and finally righty-tighty. And blend ...

"Just don't." Seth's voice seemed like it was louder than usual. He sauntered into the kitchen.

It's my imagination. Rampant, especially in the morning.

Blitz batted the ice cube experimentally. Then he chased it while Seth sat on his haunches and watched. Fun! It slid to the refrigerator. Then, he batted it under the stove. He dug it out, now fuzzy with fur. He paused. I looked casually at him, wondering what he was thinking.

Then, he licked it.

"No!" I yelled, only managing to startle him further.

And he spun around once and ran from the room with the ice cube hanging from his tongue.

It fell off before he made it to the cat tree in the living room. I stood on my tiptoes, trying to pet him in the top spot. Seth walked casually into the room to watch.

"I told you not to." Do cats laugh?

Blitz leaned away from my hand and glared.

"You hurt me!"

Not my imagination.

Thank you for listening, jb


Monday, May 8, 2017

I Am Not My Son

I've settled into a groove with you haven't I?

My life appears to be all kitten, all the time.

It's not. I assure you. But it's so easy too look at Blitzen with his little belly roll, the way he tilts his tiny head, the way he sits with his front paws apart. He looks like a boy studying a gully. Is it too far to leap, will I fall into the mud, or can I make it?

Blitz doesn't leap well. He's gotten into the habit of asking Nick or Mike or me to lift him onto the washing machine where we keep the dry cat food away from Teddy. Teddy loves dry cat food, but he's allergic so if he eats some, he goes outside and pukes later on. It's always a flurry toward the door when he makes that gulping sound. Everyone with hands leaps from the couch or the computer or the food preparation in the kitchen to go unlatch that door and let him out. We only put the wet kitten food on the floor because it doesn't seem to bother anybody very much.

Did I tell you that everyone eats each other's food? Blitz eats diet cat food and dog food, turning his nose up at the kitten food I patiently put into a little bowl for him on the floor every morning. He asks for it, so I give it to him. Then he sniffs it and goes over to what I've given the dog and eats a little of that instead. I've tried different flavors, every flavor there is. He doesn't think, because I give it to him, that it could possibly be as good as what I give the dog and the old fat cat.

Didn't I tell you this already?

Didn't I tell you that when Teddy eats, Blitz likes to go and nip at his ankles and tail because he doesn't want the dog eating the food that is surely better than his own? And Teddy tolerates that, sometimes stepping back from the bowl and sometimes wolfing down what he can before he's kicked out entirely. Blitz never bothers to nip at Teddy's ankles when he sneaks over to eat from the kitten bowl. Why is that? And why do I never hear Teddy sneaking?

How does a dog keep his nails from clicking on a vinyl floor when he's headed for wet kitten food?

The sound of a dog tiptoeing.

I have to tell you that I'm in a groove. Nick drives himself to all of his own events. Evenings are quiet. Mike and I eat dinner together in front of the TV. We take walks together with Teddy. Even when Nick is home, he's behind a closed door, either playing video games, watching Netflix, or occasionally doing homework.

Yesterday, a friend of mine said, "I am not my daughter. If her life falls apart, that's not me."

It was like a coat I wanted to try on. I wanted it to fit. I wanted it to look good on me too.

Nick's life is not my own.

He's not an adult yet, but he's ready, with his closed-door message, to be let go of. A little. He can make his own plans. He can be late. He can, God forgive me, decide to watch television and play video games all weekend and never see a single friend.

I'm telling you that if Mike hadn't been in this household, that would not be the truth. There would have been limits starting at age four. I told Mike that I blamed him for the amount of time Nick spends in front of a screen.  I don't usually play the blame game, but with this, I did. He nodded his head and looked away. It wasn't the nicest move I've made during an argument, but it felt like the truth. I worry about the screen time. Nick's less social than he used to be. His reading and writing scores are lower than I know he's capable of achieving. He needs more exercise than he gets. The worst thing I can do is take away television or video games. It's as if I've actually injured him when it happens.

I worry. You can see that I worry, can't you?

So, Nick and I are at an uneasy truce with regard to his habit. He knows I don't approve. I've explained why I think it's too much. I've nagged. I've yelled. That time is past. I'm telling you that if it were drugs or alcohol, Mike would be onboard with any necessary treatment. He sees the damage that I see. He just thinks Nick will come out of it on his own. I'm not so sure.

So, I press my lips together or ineffectually nag once in a while. Nick ignores me and keeps watching. And I try not to stew about it.

I am not my son.

But with the funny kitten, the dog and his lovely walks, and the fat old cat who demands that I sit down so he can be petted, I have pulled myself away from living Nick's life. I am not Nick.

Instead, I occasionally tie a long string to Teddy's collar and get him to run around the house so that Blitz can chase it. The look on Teddy's face when he finally understood the game?

Perfect.

Thank you for listening, jb




Sunday, April 30, 2017

An Employee for the Pile

It's late and Blitz is bored. The poor kitten has about sixteen toys in various places around the house. He collects his favorites by the heater where he liked to sleep in my sewing room.

He's a thief.

The other day, I caught him with my favorite pen by the toilet in the bathroom. No one steals my favorite pen. I sanitized it, put it away, and caught him an hour later, gracefully choosing my favorite from among the other pens and carrying it away like a prize at the carnival.

Only he doesn't have hands, so he carried it in his mouth.

Still, the pride on his face was huge. Huge.

So, I was trying to finish up when I didn't really get a damned thing done today, just a little bit of productivity, a half an hour without being distracted by Instagram, Facebook, or Netflix. It's Saturday. There is Netflix.

As soon as I got settled in behind the wheel of the computer, Blitz went on the hunt. I could see it. Someone, probably me, will be missing something by morning. Mike abandoned camping gear in various piles around the house. He's camping with the Boy Scouts this weekend. Nick, our personal Boy Scout, stayed at home and only recently disconnected from the video game he was playing for six hours before I sent him to bed. No wholesome camping in the great outdoors (rain) for him. To his credit, he did some homework earlier. A pile of books, mechanical pencils, notebooks, and a calculator still sits in a pile on the floor. I have my favorite pens, a couple of binders heavier than Blitz, and my thumb drive. Damn. Not the thumb drive.

There is lots of potential for loss here. I wonder if Blitz works for the pile.

Do you know about the pile?

Somewhere in the Universe, there's a pile of all the lost items, the nail clippers, the scissors, the homework, the phone numbers, the keys. Everything, even the car that disappeared momentarily from the parking lot where you were sure you parked it. This pile is constantly in flux, removing and returning items, usually after you've gone out and bought a new whatever-it-was to replace the old whatever-it-was.

The pile is magnificent. It is complete at all times, containing everything that was ever needed, holding onto the most necessary items just past most levels of frustration. Remember fax and copy machines that never worked when you were in a hurry?

That was because of the pile.

Remember finding your keys in the freezer?

Also the pile.

People, this is not my own invention. Somebody else theorized the existence of the pile and I'm just promoting it. I'm going to go look that up. I can look anything up. Except for weird stuff. I don't want weird advertisements coming up on my computer. So, give me a minute, won't you?

Wow! George Carlin! I can't compete with George Carlin. That man was funny. Remember the list of words you couldn't say on TV? I miss George Carlin.

I should just quit and turn off the lights now. George Carlin. Holey moley.

But I can't, not just yet. Blitz is playing with a pink eraser in the kitchen. It must belong to Nick because it has six graphite holes on each side that probably go all the way through. Years ago, I told him I would not buy him a new eraser just because he had destroyed his old one by punching holes through it and drawing all over it so that whenever he tried to erase anything, a graphite smear spread over the page. So, he still uses this slightly damaged one from at least a year and a half ago. I know it's that old. I'm sure.

Last fall I went around the house and collected motley folders, only slightly dinged binders, loose lined paper that wasn't too crumpled, and notebooks that only had writing on five or six pages. I found an assortment of chewed pencils and a handful of pens from hotels we'd visited. I even found a couple of Master locks and coerced Nick to remember combinations until he hit on a correct one. I didn't buy any school supplies at all last fall. I was an absolute curmudgeon, now that I think about it, but that's what happens when a kid whines that he needs six different folders and you can pull out a basket that contains at least eighteen gently used folders, most of which are pink or purple but are still somehow unacceptable.

So, I know that eraser could be from middle school and is still in daily use.

Now, I have to stay up and watch the kitten to see if I can tell just exactly when that eraser, probably the only decent eraser in the entire house, goes onto the pile. It's like trying to stay awake to see the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. He's still having a good old time, tossing it into the air with his mouth, adding cat drool and tooth holes to what Nick will need to erase his homework next week. It's under the left leg of the piano now, next to Mike's computer bag with the ID tag that has new cat teeth imprints on it. It's not on the pile. Not yet. But Blitz isn't done pawing at that pink eraser and I'm pretty sure he works covertly for the pile.

I'm getting sleepy. It's about to happen. I just know it. I just can't stay awake, not one minute longer.

Thank you for listening, jb

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Two-Turd Solution

I've been sick. Did you miss me? The good news is that I'm not dying, at least not today. The bad news is that I still feel like crap.

The nice thing about my critters is that they know when I don't feel well. Last night, I'd been sleeping on my back with my arms and legs splayed out. I woke up wondering what wet thing was in my hand.

It was Blitz's nose. He had buried his face in my palm. It almost made up for what has been going on in the litter box.

Did I tell you about the litter box?

I think I told you that he'd peed in my work bag, then in the hamper on my new favorite pink shirt. I don't know if I admitted that it must have been him and not a mouse that had peed in Nick's duffle bag. The whole thing was so gross that I visualized bringing him back to the clinic to get a refund.

Right, a refund. He was free, completely free. How could I bring him back?

That's the hard part. You can't easily bring a horrible adoption back when you have gotten to know the people who adopted him to you. Oh, who am I kidding? Most places emphasize the forever home. Forever. Until death do us part. It's harder than a bad marriage. Pet divorce is a travesty, shameful, always the fault of the human. Didn't try hard enough. I've thought that myself, more than once.

I knew I could never face them if I failed. I just couldn't, not even if the pisser peed in every corner of my house and pooped in my purse. Right, he peed in my purse.

So, I sat down with him, stared him into his hazel eyes and talked it out.

"You can't keep peeing on our stuff. You just have to use the litter box, Blitz. It's too hard to replace all the karate stuff that you ruin and to wash the pink out of my new favorite shirt. It's already faded and I only wore it once. You have to stop."

He stared back at me for a minute, flipped onto his back, and batted my hands with his paws. No claws, just soft gray paws.

"I mean it," I said. But I knew he'd won the argument.

Later in the afternoon, I was walking Teddy with a friend of mine and admitted that I'd considered sending Blitz back. She stopped walking and stared at me for a minute. I almost started crying as I looked back at her.

"It's just too disgusting, all this pee everywhere."

"What have you tried?" she asked. No judgement. Wow. I need to keep this friend.

"We're keeping every bag in the house zipped up tight and I bought new hampers, colors and whites, with lids on them so he can't jump in."

"And has he peed on them?"

"Not yet," I went on. "And I'm going to get a third litter box to make sure that's not the problem."

I kept babbling.

"I even had a talk with him, you know, visualizing the problem and then visualizing the solution. I've heard somewhere that if you visualize things as you talk that the animals can understand you more easily."

She tilted her head. That might have been a little woo-woo for her.

"Maybe you should have a talk with your other cat. Does he keep the kitten from going in?"

Puzzle pieces clicked into place.

"Oh ..." I said. "That's good."

It wasn't Seth's fault either, I thought. It was my fault. The litter boxes were getting dirty too quickly. As soon as I got home, I cleaned them and set an alarm on my phone for five minutes after Mike and Nick left the house in the morning. I could sleep in on the weekends, but I was always home, wondering what to do next when Nick and Mike left in the mornings.

So far so good. A few weeks have gone by and Blitz has only peed in the litter boxes. Everywhere else is good. I have been a litter box queen. The little guy even comes around while I'm cleaning and looks at me almost with a grin on his face.

Now I have a new problem: Blitz rolls in a clean litter box every morning when I'm done. It's disgusting and Mike caught him at it last weekend.

"I can barely make myself pet him any more," he said as I tied up the smelly plastic bag of turds and clumped piss. I didn't say anything. I agreed with him, but how do you stop yourself from thinking about when your pets lick their own butts then try to lick your hand? How do you stop thinking about how they sit, bare-assed, on your favorite book or pillow? What about everything else? There were so many spooged diapers and constant puke on your shirt the first couple years you carried your boy around? What about the little gobs of snot you found stuck to the wall by his bed when he was eight and you had to make him clean it up before he stopped doing it? What about when you stepped in poop at the dog park and had to run your shoes back and forth over the gravel in the parking lot before you got into your car? What about the things you manage to culture in the back of your refrigerator? What about dust mites and face mites and probiotics? It's all so very disgusting when you think closely about it.

So now I'm the litter box queen implementing the two-turd solution. When I leave two turds on top of the clean litter box, Blitz doesn't roll in it.

Most of the time.

Thank you for listening, jb

Update: I just realized that I wrote this story already. Sorry. I really have been feeling like crap. It's time to go sit down and put on my cat blanket, two cats on my lap and knees. They fight over who gets my lap. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Rolling in Cat Litter

"The kitten is rolling in the litter box," Mike said this morning. "Look at him."

"Ew, gross," I said. The little guy was born under a mobile home in a trailer park. Did it feel like home for him to roll around in the dirt?

"Shouldn't we squirt him?" he said.

"And make him feel like he's not allowed in the litter box at all? I don't want to go back to him peeing in everything."

See, I should have told you the story about 'the little fucker.' Remember the mouse in the duffel bag?  I was wrong. That was cat piss, not mouse piss. I should have known it was too much volume to represent a mouse. I should have, but I didn't. A few days after the duffel bag debacle, I picked up my big work bag that had turned into a purse. What the hell? Stuff inside was wet, and sour. Everything, my phone charger, my favorite scarf, and even the Ziploc of food I keep in there. The Ziploc had been unzipped. I threw away unopened containers of tuna salad, applesauce, and peanut butter. Oh man. I had seen the kitten in there, but I thought it was funny.

Not funny.

Then two days later, he peed in the hamper, on my new favorite shirt from LL Bean, a soft pink T-shirt. I had never even worn it. Oh, I was pissed at Blitz, totally pissed. Can you give a kitten back after keeping him four months?

I thought about it.

Blitz could tell I was mad at him. Without any provocation besides me fuming and calling him 'little fucker' as I stood at the washing machine with the pre-wash stuff and my new pissy shirt. I wasn't sure this smell was going to come out. He started running away any time anyone walked toward him. He seemed more feral than he'd been a month after we brought him home. A gentle friend of mine said I needed to make sure Seth wasn't keeping him out of the litter box. We have more than one litter box, but did the little guy think to go to his own box downstairs when Seth was crabby about his litter box upstairs? My friend is brilliant. I went out, bought a hamper with a lid, and implemented my new plan.

I decided to keep the litter boxes seriously clean. I would clean them every day instead of every second or third day. If they were clean, I thought, would anybody care who was peeing where? I set an alarm on my phone to go off at the same time every day to get into the habit.

And it worked like a charm. Seth was so happy. I could tell by the way he hovered whenever I sat down on the footstool to do my dirty work and went in to mess it up after I was done. After I had washed the hell out of my new favorite shirt two more times, we were in a groove. No more  accidents. Feral cat settling down. I had been able to see how Seth hounded Blitz over food and lap time and I managed to let Blitz know he wasn't supposed to hide in the house like a feral kitty. I promised him we'd get through all of the bumps together. He wasn't going back.

And he was so happy. He went back to playing on his back on the kitchen floor despite the potential for inattentive feet bumping him. He rolled around under the rug and played more in the open. He even rubbed his face on Teddy's face whenever we came home from a walk. Jackson Galaxy from My Cat from Hell would have been proud of us.

Life was good.

Until the little cretin started rolling in the cat litter.

Maybe the litter box is a bit too clean. I could leave a couple of nuggets in there to persuade him. Maybe I need to bring in a big pot of grass and soil for the little dirtbag to roll in when he's happy. I could picture him, rolling in his little square foot of grass in the corner of the kitchen. It would look ratty and pathetic after a month of chewing and rolling but it might make him happy.

You can take the kitten out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the kitten.

Thank you for listening, jb