At the shelter this morning we were greeted by a full complement of cats. Between the felines smelling the food we were mixing, and the dogs responding to the yowling cats it was a cacophony of noise. My ears are still ringing. My heart always goes out to the old timers. Those animals logging months of time in the cages rather than the newbies only having been there a matter of weeks. It is almost comical how their faces reflect their moods. Big, sad eyes peer out of cages occupied with the older, less adoptable cats while kittens look well, kittenish, playfully tossing their toys about with or draped engagingly from cat towers. Let’s face it baby anything’s are cute. Even a newborn crocodile might be somewhat endearing. As we age, like the leaves on the trees, we tend to get a little crinkly around the edges.
There are two cats in residence at the moment each with only one eye. The older of the two is appropriately named Old One Eye, while the other one answers to Myron Cohen, for God knows what reason. Both old gentlemen have easy-going natures despite viewing their world through only a single lens. In either situation the injuries were due to human neglect rather than fighting, making their loss slightly more disheartening. There is also a small female with one ear partially missing. She sleeps in the litter box provided for her, as if the high walls offer some protection. According to the notes on her cage her owner, tiring of the cats in his charge, decided to use them for target practice wounding several before help came. Little angers me more than people deriving enjoyment from inflicting pain on animals or children who cannot fight back. Such a cowardly way to conduct your business. I am not of a vengeful nature but if there is retribution for our acts on this earth, this is one case where I believe an eye for an eye in the most literal sense would be justified.
On the way into the shelter, however, I witnessed a lovely bit of human kindness. The drive takes me along country roads winding back through the unincorporated areas of our city. It is beautiful in these rural neighborhoods, mostly populated by small farms or white fenced horse ranches. Crops line up along neat rows of furrowed chocolate-colored soil, and cows and goats roam across the pastures stopping to graze at the ground or nudge a fly off their rumps. Rounding a curve I found cars stopped in both directions, a line forming. As I slowed I realized there was a parade in progress, led by a mallard and his rather large duck family. Waddling slowly across the asphalt, the male duck looked to the right and left as if to check for oncoming traffic. Mom followed closely behind, quacking responses to the dialog coming from her mate most likely regarding the 8-10 fuzzy little youngsters excitedly hopping about in a haphazard formation behind their parents. Drivers waited patiently in their cars, while one little duckling, obviously not the sharpest pencil in the box, weaved in and out of line finally turning and heading in the completely opposite direction. Mother duck, sensing a flock member out of control flapped her wings and quacked angrily until the errant youngster made his way back to the group. Finally the small family reached the safety of the opposite side of the road and traffic once again commenced to move. It was a nice way to start my day.
Cats are funny creatures, prone to do what they want to do at any given moment, rather than follow the path you’ve chosen for them. If I want Boo to right, it is assured she will go left. She has shared quarters with us since 2006 and up until this point, I haven’t seen her vary this behavior one iota unless there’s something coming her way should she capitulate.
My mother, who as I wrote in my previous blog suffers from OCD, owns a cat. The cat, unfortunately also named Susie, has not read the pertinent books on the subject so has no idea what the rules are when living with a person suffering from the disease. At first I thought the pairing was going to go about as well as downing a glass of Zinfandel with a Twinkie, but amazingly they have survived the initial rough spots and have now been together three years. Who would have thought?
Mother’s kitchen is antithetically clean. You could easily plop on the floor and make a sandwich on the tile and remain untouched by any bacterial invasion. While there the coffee pot is ritually cleaned by my other half on each visit, a chore Mother has deemed his. Mine would be making the coffee once the pot is cleaned. As I am usually the first head out from under the covers this serves us all well. Making my way to the kitchen on our first morning there, I switched on the light to find Susie perched on the counter, eyes wider than the Cumberland Gap, licking the butter dish. Derision in the ranks. Seeing it was me and not her mistress, she cast one last eyebrow lifted look in my direction and went back to the task at hand. I gently put her on the floor, tossed the butter, and kept her secret safe when Mother arrived on the scene. We all have to break the rules from time to time. I did suggest she either put the butter in the refrigerator or keep the lid tightly sealed. I love kitties, but prefer my toast without fur, thank you very much.
They have an excellent working arrangement. Mother chases Susie around the house saying, “Noooo, Noooo, Noooo, Noooo, Noooo, Kitty”, glad I passed the baton on that one, and Susie continues on doing exactly what she was doing lending a deaf ear to the conversation. Blankets have been laid over the furniture for the cat to sleep on. That being said you will find her curled up on any number of uncovered spots, taking an afternoon “cat nap”, if you will, leaving a spot of hair here and there to mark her passing.
We’re never going to fully train them, and would we want to? We have taken them into our homes and domesticated them, but in the end they are cats not human beings, and should be treated as thus. If I put Boo in a lion costume on Halloween, I assure you she would pack her Kitty Treats and her favorite mouse and be out of here before you could say “trick or treat”.
This salad was lapped at a party over the weekend. It was pretty and colorful in the dish and crunchy and delicious in your mouth. I found containers of baby heirloom tomatoes which made the perfect blend of flavors.
Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Salad with Tarragon Dressing
2 lbs. of small heirloom tomatoes, halved
8 large mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 yellow bell pepper, halved and sliced thin
1/2 orange bell pepper, halved and sliced thin
1/2 green bell pepper, halved and sliced thin
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
Feta cheese for garnish
Place all ingredients in bowl. Toss with dressing. Serve with a sprinkle of feta cheese on top.
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh basil
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon
1/2 Tbsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Whisk together all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. Toss well with vegetables.