We’re Down to Our Last Roll – 8

Shelter-in-place observations. An ongoing chronicle of the plague.

Today I mended a cup.

Cup mending is not the kind of activity I normally engage in. Cup mending is the kind of thing I plan on doing, putting the pieces away in a safe place and then, generally, forgetting both the safe place and the cup itself.

But I broke a cup two days ago, dropping it into the sink, and so there it was on the counter, the broken handle tucked inside. And I was bored, with nothing to do. There was plenty of glue on a shelf in the garage, including a nifty epoxy with special grips for precision dispensing. It was perfect for the job, and I now have a cup with intact handle. I am to leave it undisturbed for 12 hours. That won’t be difficult in this stillness.

But, as a way to pass the time, cup mending isn’t very effective. Only took about five minutes. I looked around for other things to mend but couldn’t find anything broken. Even thought about breaking a plate, but I was afraid there’d be too many fragments.


Parsimony appears to be one of the byproducts of cowering in place. We go to the store as infrequently as possible, half the shelves are bare, we come home with whatever we were able to find, and the instinct is to preserve it. Make it last.

Thus, I find myself eating half a candy bar, trying to save half my steak for tomorrow’s dinner, forgoing my afternoon coffee.

I feel as though I have been doing this all my life. It was the same when I was a starving student, a salaryman trying to pay a mortgage, an older worker looking to retire.

You’d think I’d be good at it by now.


Bob the Bird is back.

He announces himself every morning, chirping loudly outside my bedroom window. It is a happy sound, the kind of thing that makes you feel guilty for lying lazily in bed.

Bob is a finch, one of several who hang out at the very top of the pine tree in the back yard. They sit and watch the world from there, chirping their commentary. It sounds as if they’re laughing at us.

Bob the Bird

In those uppermost branches, the finches do not practice social distancing. They are not afraid of the plague, but it can get some animals, too. Today, I read about a cat who had covid-19 symptoms and tested positive. It is now recovering under quarantine.

Then I thought how come there aren’t enough tests for people, but they can test a cat?



Taozer’s Great Adventure

One day, my cat faced off against a raccoon

Taozer is an indoor cat, he has no front foot claws.
In battle must defend himself with nothing but his jaws.
His backfeet claws are also used to scrabble and to scrup
When Taozer and some other cat decide to mix it up.

Taozer is an indoor cat but likes to go outside,
So Sunday morning sat beside the kitchen door and cried,
For the sun was on the patio, the hummers at the blooms,
And inside it was cold and dark and musty in our rooms.
So, emanating cuteness from his station on the floor
He indeed induced some passing pal to open up the door.furst_jolenepotted20120920_0071-recovered_lr_
And so it was that later as I lay upon the floor
Doing exercises meant to make me flexible once more,
I heard a great commotion come from underneath the house
And knew my cat confronted something bigger than a mouse.
‘Twas then my heart was gripped with fear, and nearly did I swoon,
For our crawlspace has been residence to more than one raccoon.
And while Taozer can take tabbies on, it stands to reason that
A raccoon is a bit much for an indoor pussy cat.

Up did I jump, and crying out, I sounded the alarm:
“To me! To me! Brave family! Lest Taozer come to harm!”
We hit the decks a’runnin’ and assembled in the yard,
Myself, my wife, and my two sons, eyes bright and breathing hard.
My sons they circled to the east, while wife went to the west
And I stayed in the middle (which is what I do the best).
Sharp and alert, we circumambulated our abode
But we saw no sign of Taozer, and the silence did forebode.furst_elmejordelosgatosgradient_lr_

Then eldest son cried out to us, “I hear a growling sound!
They’re underneath the house!”, and to the trap door we did bound.
And back upon its hinges did we fling that opening.
We peered into the darkness, but we could not see a thing.
A dismal place is our crawlspace: a bug and worm utopia,
Two feet of gloom from floor to mud, a dour claustrophobia.
I stared into the silent dark, and then I had a hunch:
Some ‘coon was taking Taozer as a good excuse for lunch!
Just one thing stood between it and its culinary spree,
Only one thing stood between them and I thought that thing was me!furst_jolene20120916_0116-2_lr_Without thought for my own safety, without even camouflage,
Then I girded up for battle at the back of the garage.
I put on my safety glasses to protect my eyes from claws,
And I donned my heavy garden gloves for vexing vicious jaws.
Then I grabbed my trusty flashlight and down through the trap I ran
Landing prone upon my belly like Stallone in Viet Nam.
My beam pierced through the darkness until finally I did see
My favorite orange pussycat a-lookin’ back at me.
With all the noise we’d made upstairs the raccoon must have fled,
And far from being breakfast, Taozer held the ground instead.Cat graphic

Now I’ve seen Taozer tumble from an elevated perch
And I’ve seen him stalk and stumble with a most un-feline lurch
But although he’s been embarrassed by these failings of before
It was nothing like that episode beneath the kitchen floor
For when you’re king of the jungle and survey savannah grasses
You’re not meant to need be rescued by some fool in safety glasses.

It was later in the evening as I read at my repose
That Taozer stepped upon the book and graced it with his toes
He looked at me through half-closed eyes and didn’t say a word
But his attitude spoke gratitude. At least, that’s what I heard
So I scratched his head behind the ears and put him on my knee
For that is where an indoor cat had really ought to be


Cat Sitting

Roger has two rare polydactyl cats. He asked me to come over and take care of them while he went on vacation.

Hi Roger

I want you and Gillian to have a great vacation. So don’t worry about your house or the cats. I’ve got everything under control.

Eric came over last night and after dinner, he and I decided to sample some of your fine Scotches, as you had kindly offered. So I want to thank you for your hospitality. Scully didn’t much care for Scotch, but Mully had a few licks and didn’t seem to mind it. So I gave her a little more and she climbed in my lap while Eric and I kept sampling.

After a while we decided to have a little game of toss-the-cat. We were sitting in the living room only a couple of feet apart, and we got her going in a nice little back and forth rhythm. She seemed to be having a ball, thrashing about and turning somersaults in mid-air. Then Scully came over to see what all the noise was about and Eric got a great idea.

He picked Scully up and tossed him over to me, while at the same time I tossed Mully to him. The cats crossed in mid-air and they could wave to one another as they passed at apogee. To get our timing right, we had to stand further apart, at opposite ends of the room. Scully was a little less enthusiastic than Mully, but wtf, don’t spoil the game, cat.

After a while, the ceiling started getting in the way, and we decided to move the game outside. So we took the last bottle out to the backyard. We kept moving further and further apart to see how far we could toss. By now, both cats were squealing with delight. When we got out to fifteen feet, though, they collided in mid-air and fell to the ground between us. I was able to grab Mully, but Scully jumped over the fence and into the next yard. Luckily, the Doberman that lives there chased him right back and Eric managed to tackle him, so don’t worry, he’s not lost.

We got back into cat-throwing position, but unfortunately, on the next toss, I put a little too much into it and Mully went sailing over Eric’s head. She hit the big tree back there and slid down the trunk, then scrambled back up and out onto a branch. She’s a really good climber!

She was sitting out there on that branch, maybe twenty feet up, and we didn’t know what to do. We tried throwing rocks at her to make her come down, but I think we only managed to hit her once and it didn’t work. Then Eric got another idea.

He found a piece of wire in the shed that you use for a workshop back there, and by tying a weight to its end, he was able to throw it over the branch that the cat was sitting on, near the base. Then we each grabbed one end and pulled it back and forth, until finally we managed to saw through the branch.  When it fell, it hit the workshop roof, but I’m sure it won’t cost much to repair the window and gutter.

Mully came down on the roof, too. We were able to pick her up with no problem after she slid over the gutter and fell to the ground, though. She seemed a little dazed, but don’t worry, she’s fine now. The vet says it’s only a mild concussion and the cast should come off in three weeks.

I hope you guys are having a great time. And tell Gillian not to stress over the home front: I haven’t missed a feeding and the litter box is clean.

Your friend,