I can't sleep, so I'm blogging for the first time in what seems like an eternity. Lots of goings on in the interim, but little inclination to devote the necessary hours to attempting a clever description, and even less to sit in front of the computer to which I am already tethered 40 hours a week to do the necessary tweaking to material that will have been dubiously dictated.
Weeks and weeks back, my uncle-in-law, Bill, told me that an old friend of his had asked him to do an estate sale for his mother, and he wondered if I were interested in helping him. We met the widowed lady and her son, spent a couple of hours chitchatting and poking through the house, and settled on her having a month to finish going through her papers and sorting out what she wanted to keep. We were supposed to start working last weekend. But she wasn't finished sorting, and a bad fall had hospitalized her for several days. We planned to begin this weekend. Nope. Maybe next Saturday will work...however, now I have weddings to attend on that evening and on the following Saturday. The lady was hoping originally for an end-of-June sale, but at this point, it may be a middle-of-August event. Even though it's a small house, with just two of us working on evenings and weekends, it's going to be slow coming together.
To get a handle "on the competition," as Bill put it, he and I arranged to meet a month ago at a sale run by one of the few estate companies in this area--if this prospective informal event we're planning comes off well, we'll consider formalizing our business, particularly as I also have been asked to conduct sales. It was neat and organized, and the prices were fair. I bought a Christmas ornament for 50c. Definitely not DC level items, though--a bit above the common condition of the retired Methodist ministers' widows' neat poverty, but not by much. The decor had not been updated since the mid-1970s. The split level featured orange shag carpet and the furniture was finished marbled yellow. It was packed with budget tchotchkes, holiday decorations, and other comfortable accoutrements of middle class middle America. Yet, Bill sounded out the staffers, and they'd done pretty well even in the hour or so they'd been open before we arrived. A bunch of furniture had sold, as had most of the lamps. People were buying.
Retiring outside, Bill and I sat on the tailgate of his truck for two hours as the sun sank toward the horizon, first talking about sale planning, and then him telling me stories--about his and my aunt-in-law's menagerie (seven cats, three dogs, four miniature horses), antique military vehicles (there's a whole subculture of restorers), and adventures in animal control. I think if I were to record his tales, I'd have a ready-made novel, constructed of fascinating factoids. He also told me he knew of a cat living in a radiator shop in South Augusta who needed a home.
I've been considering getting a cat for a long time, but it wasn't until I was recently allowed to start telecommuting three days a week that I felt the moment had arrived. I wanted an adult, a lap cat. Kittens are all cute and adorable by definition, but I wanted to know the personality of the creature with whom I would be sharing my living space, and adult cats have a harder time attracting potential adopters. I bought a litter box, after researching which had the highest ratings. I bought an automatic feeder – I didn't want the potential cat to expect me to feed it in the mornings, but to get used to having regularly spaced meals that weren't dependent on my schedule (necessitating my rousting out of bed at the crack of dawn to scoop kibble). I bought a water fountain. I acquired not one, not two, but three scratching posts (two of those I bought at my next door neighbor's yard sale--her garage is impeccable, so I know the inside of her house is spotless, and they look like new). I got a soft-sided carrier and a conventional hard plastic one. Now all I needed was the cat, or cats (two at most).
The radiator shop cat turned out to be pregnant, and unvetted. My aunt (she of the menagerie) wisely advised me against acquiring this untold burden. When I was helping to set up for communion June 12, a lady from church, who had worked with my dad (whose grave I went to visit that afternoon for the first time since the funeral), initially said she was interested in unloading her late mother's cat, but she eventually decided that she sheould keep it. My aunt recommended I look at specific rescue groups.
I went on the interwebs and was completely overwhelmed. There are so many cats online! It was worse than a matchmaking site, because I don't really care much about a cat's appearance (other than it not be longhaired, because managing the shedding would be a Sisyphean task). So I finally wrote one rescue, explained my situation, and asked for their recommendations. The director invited me to the Saturday/Sunday event at the local Pet Emporium, so after church I went to see their selection of fuzzy beasts.
There were dozens of cats and kittens in wire cages at the front of the store. I told the volunteers what I was looking for, shopping like I would for wine. One, a young nursing mother, a brindled tabby barely out of kittenhood herself, who reminded me a lot of my beloved childhood cat, I ended up holding for fifteen minutes. She calmly observed the world, not wriggling to escape or displaying fear in the face of the dogs who came into the store with their owners, her paws soft on my arm.
Is the world run by big, blousey women who like to put the innocent bystander on the spot?! I can understand wanting to assure the safety and well-being of the vulnerable, but as a painfully honest person I find that questionnaires are a huge minefield, as I tend to think about all the possibilities for each and every answer and am thereby thoroughly confused. I repeatedly get tripped up, ruined by my inability to see the forest for the trees. In a fit of OCD, on the preliminary "Are you the sort of person we would consider allowing to adopt one of our cats?" form, I had mentioned that if I were to get a job overseas, I might have to give up a potential pet. Honestly, you'd have thought that I'd suggested the occasional interest in beheading infidels. This fiftyish blonde put me through the third degree. I weakly extracted myself from her verbal clutches and skulked out of the store, thinking wryly that not only was I a failure at romantic connections and employment searching, I'd apparently also flunked cat adoption. But before I left, the foster parents of the cat in which I was interested pressed a post-in into my palm inscribed with their names and telephone number.
I thought about the cat--Trixie--for several days, and then called the fosters to arrange a face to fur meeting. Thursday, my friend Susanna--whose birthday it was--and I spent almost two hours sequestered with Trixie and her two remaining kittens, talking with the fosters and stroking the cats. And the upshot was that I decided to adopt Trixie.
I went back to the Pet Emporium and filled out most of the paperwork on Friday. Another blonde lady with the feline rescue--this one was friendly, approachable, and displayed good taste in estate jewelry--helped me and took my deposit. Trixie is going to be spayed and I'm scheduled to pick her up Wednesday, while she's settling in to wearing her Cone of Courage. I hope she likes living with me, and doesn't get bored as an only cat. Awaiting her arrival are three catnip mice, a bag of kitty treats, and a pouncing wand.