A Story for Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My mother is one of my most loyal blog readers. She would like me to write more. A few months ago we were talking on the phone and she commented that I hadn’t written anything in a long time. I agreed that that was true. Things have been hard around here, especially the last 18 months.

She said, “Maybe if you wrote shorter posts you could do it more often.” But I am like Blaise Pascal who apologized for writing a long letter because he didn’t have time to make it shorter. Shorter is not easier. I can only write what I can write, and I can only write it when I can write it.

Sorry I don’t write more, Mom. Hopefully things will be getting better soon.

And for Mother’s Day 2019, here is a post for you, and about you.

My mother is mostly known for making things. For many years she made very beautiful baskets — she was a Roycroft Artisan and sold at shows across Western New York. She has always knitted, mostly sweaters but lately socks. She volunteers at church and knits hats and scarves that are given to street people and others in need. But even more than her baskets or her knitting, my mother is known far and wide for her cookies. This year at Christmas my brother’s wife played a trick on her nieces and nephews who came over for Christmas dinner (which my mom still makes every year, she says it’s easy), she put out a plate of cookies that someone else had given them. The kids came in the door and headed straight for the kitchen in search of Grandma Currie’s cookies. They found the plate of cookies that my sister-in-law had put out and each took one. They were not fooled. After one bite they looked at each other and said, “These are not Grandma Currie’s cookies. Where are the real cookies?”

When I was growing up, my mom was known less for making things and more for knowing things. She was like the all-seeing eye — she knew everything. She knew things about my friends that I didn’t know. She probably knew things about my friends that even they didn’t know.

I think of her as a kind of savant.

Here is a story I tell about my mother sometimes, because I think it is funny and because I think it epitomizes two important things: (1) college kids don’t know anything, and (2) my mother has all the answers.

My senior year in college I lived in a house with six other people. It wasn’t supposed to be that many but we kept adding people as we looked for a house, like the Canterbury Tales or the Wizard of Oz or something. People kept joining our merry little band. We ended up finding a great house that wasn’t quite big enough for the seven people we had ended up with, but we took it anyway because it was beautiful and not too expensive and we figured we could make it work. And we did, mostly. (And we are actually all still friends, lo these many years later.)

The house was in Durham, North Carolina, where you have a pretty good chunk of the year where you can get by without heat or air conditioning. Especially in the fall, you have a nice stretch where it’s not too hot anymore but it hasn’t started to get cold yet either.

Our lease started in June, and two of us spent the summer in Durham, along with one or two of the people who had lived in the house the previous year, and one or two random summer sublet people. Then the other five housemates came along when school started at the end of August.

By the middle of October it was starting to get cold, and eventually it got to the point where we actually needed to heat the house. We knew where the thermostat was, because we’d been using the air conditioning all summer, but when we put it on heat, nothing happened. No heat.

This was the first time any of us had lived on our own in a house, we had no experience with anything. We didn’t know what to do to make the heat work. So of course I called my mom.

I said, “Mom, we don’t have any heat. We put the thermostat on heat, nothing happened. What do we do?”

She said, “Well what kind of heat do you have?”

I said, “I don’t know. What does that mean?”

She said, “What kind of heat. Is it oil? Is it gas? Electric?”

I said, “I don’t know. How would I know that?”

She said, “Well it depends on what kind of furnace you have. Do you have a furnace? If it’s oil there’ll be a big tank somewhere that the oil goes in. Is there a tank anywhere?”

I said, “I don’t know.”

She told me it would be outside the house somewhere, I’d see a big metal tank, probably somewhere close to where the furnace was. I knew we had a furnace because the furnace was in front of a small addition that was the laundry room. Even a dumb college student could figure that one out.

I said, “Okay, let me go look. I’ll call you back.”

So I went outside and walked around the house, and on the north side, next to the wall of the room with the furnace was a big metal tank.

I went back inside and called my mom.

I said, “Yes, there’s a big tank outside.”

She said, “Well then you have an oil furnace. You need to get oil.”

I said, “How do we do that?”

She said, “You call the oil company and they bring it to you.”

Oh! Okay.

This was 1988 so I’m sure the next step involved looking in the phone book and figuring out how to order a tank of oil for our oil furnace. So we had that delivered and — ta da! — we had heat in our house.

(Mini side story: We had heat in our house until we ran out of oil just before it was about to get warm and had a pitched battle between me, who said SUCK IT UP PEOPLE, it’s going to be warm in like a week, we do NOT need to spend money filling an oil tank in a house that we are about to leave, and everyone else who said OMFG IT IS FREEZING IN THIS HOUSE. I lost that battle. Here is one famous line from that time period: “If we have to hear one more time about how you are from Buffalo and this not that cold we are going to have to kill you.”)

So thanks, Mom, for many things, including helping us get heat in our house in 1988.

I don’t know what other people do when they can’t figure something out but I call my mom.

She knows everything.

Haters!

Friday, April 5, 2019

So I took the day off from work on Tuesday, because I worked both weekend days two weeks in a row, in addition to my regular weekday work. There’s only so much a person can take.

I didn’t do much, tried to get caught up on some things around the house and pull together my tax info. At around 6:30, I checked my regular email, the one I’ve had forever, then I checked my gmail account, which I set up when I went back to school, because I needed an account that wasn’t my regular account. I don’t use the gmail account for much, but it is the account that WordPress comments in need of approval get sent to, comments from someone who hasn’t commented before. I don’t often get a new commenter but every now and then something shows up. I try to make sure I check that account at least once a week.

So I check the gmail messages and I have two comments from Nancy K. waiting to be approved.

With the exception of two comments I got in 2017 praising Donald Trump — I seriously think those were from a Russian troll farm, or maybe they were actual Americans inspired by Russian trolls, the whole thing was completely weird, how did these people find me, anyway? — all of the comments I get are nice. People I don’t know thank me for writing and share interesting thoughts. It’s really very uplifting.

UNTIL TUESDAY!!!!!

I look at the comments to be approved and they are filled with vitriol! Here is one:

10 years ago is 10 years ago…not sure why you felt like your 15 minutes meant that people continued to want to read about your boring ass life. You seem kind of stuck up and conceited overall, and I generally dont like you. The original teachers at least made it enjoyable to read and didn’t have a holier than thou attitude. Stop writing as if you’re better than everyone else. Stop writing period (you’re not a very good writer), get a real job, and give up this blog. No one reads or cares about it anymore. Stop grasping straws of minor fame from a decade ago please and get on with your life. The rest of us did, 9 years and 11 months ago lol

lol is right!

Like all I’ve been doing for the past 10 years is lollygagging around trying to make hay from my MOMENT OF FAME. I didn’t even make hay from my moment of fame when it was happening! Come on people!

(And for the record, I do have a job; whether or not it qualifies as a “real” job is open to debate.)

I went down the list of people who hate me right now. (This list is longer than you might think given what a NICE PERSON I am.)

All of them seemed possible — at this point, nothing is going to surprise me — but somewhat implausible. I could definitely see any of them trolling me on my blog, but it didn’t seem likely that they’d go after me about whether or not “anyone gives 2 shits about whether or not you use a packet of ketchup from a restaurant.” It just seemed like they might go after me for different things than Nancy K. did.

I looked at the whois record for Nancy K’s IP address to see if that gave me any clues. It was a New York Public Schools address, which seemed to eliminate most of my local enemies. Maybe it was just some random person who doesn’t like me? A wannabe high school bully doing some target practice?

While pondering these possibilities, I thought more about the content of the comments, and noted that the first comment was on a post where I clarified something that my friend (not random dude) Tom had needled me about, accusing me of “cheating.” It also referenced taking ketchup and sugar packets from restaurants, something the “original teachers” did and which I specifically said in my ground rules that I wouldn’t do.

The second comment (given above) directly mentioned the “original teachers” and how their project was better, at least it was “enjoyable to read.” Unlike my tedious slog. That this person is forcing themselves to get through. Ten years later.

Hmmm…

After putting in my monocle and considering the evidence, I decided that the comments are probably not from a local hater, or from a random hater, but from someone who is a fan of the “original teachers” and who was offended by my snarky attitude toward them. (It’s true. I could have been nicer to them. I apologize.)

While all of the possibilities seem weird, it is hard for me to imagine that someone who doesn’t know me at all and has no connection to anything on my blog would come to this blog — which is not advertised anywhere, I’m not selling anything, and I hardly ever post — and say mean things about me, without some motivating factor. I think my local haters have bigger fish to fry, I don’t think they would bother with trolling me on my blog.

So.

I will just say that I’m sorry for all of you out there, like Nancy K., who feel compelled to come here and read my bad writing, over and over again, year after year. I’m doing the best I can. I write this blog mostly for myself and everyone else is free to read it or not read it as they see fit.

I’m also sorry you think I’m stuck up and conceited and you don’t like me much. There’s really not much I can do about that, I am who I am.

And this seems like a good time to re-post my favorite sign from Cooperstown, New York.

And that is it for tonight.

Peace out.

Ten Years Ago

Monday, February 4, 2019

In February 2009, I did a project where I ate for a dollar a day.

I wrote about it on this very blog that I had created just for the project, and I didn’t expect anyone to take any notice of it, I did it for myself, because I was annoyed by someone else’s dollar-a-day project, which began with a $150 trip to Costco, and I wanted to do a straight-up dollar-a-day project, where you actually get a dollar a day, which seemed impossible.

But then lots of people paid attention to it and there was a full-page article about me in People magazine and I went on the Rachael Ray show and I had a brief moment of minor celebrityhood. Which is definitely not something I ever expected or wanted, or even particularly enjoyed.

And all of that went away almost as fast as it came in, but the blog is still here, and if my life ever gets better and I am able to think about anything other than surviving my current life I will start writing again.

In the meantime, you have 10 years of intermittent posts about food and frugality and a wide variety of other topics — some related but most not — to keep you occupied.

I saw my friend Muriel the other day, she stopped by The Scrap Exchange with her sister and I was talking to her and she mentioned that it was her birthday AT THE EXACT SAME MOMENT that a Facebook alert popped up on my computer screen telling me that it was Muriel’s birthday. Which was very weird. Especially since I do not have a Facebook account. (I was on someone else’s computer who is Facebook friends with Muriel.)

It was a strange meta Facebook reality convergence moment.

We discussed turning 50 and I shared with her the story of my 50th birthday lunch last year, at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, at which a friend who is 60 told us that the past decade has been the best 10 years of her life. The rest of my friends who were with me at lunch — all of whom were my age or younger — found that statement inspiring.

This morning I was reading through things on my computer and came across a quote I pulled recently when I re-read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, which is a book I saw on every bookshelf in the world when I was growing up and which I assumed was schlocky, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book I hated so much it made me angry that I had spent time reading it, but which is actually a great book, beautifully written and insightful and poetic.

Here is the quote:

For is it not possible that middle age can be looked upon as a period of second flowering, second growth, even a kind of second adolescence? It is true that society in general does not help one accept this interpretation of the second half of life. And therefore this period of expanding is often tragically misunderstood. Many people never climb above the plateau of forty-to-fifty. The signs that presage growth, so similar, it seems to me, to those in early adolescence — discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair, longing — are interpreted falsely as signs of decay. In youth one does not as often misinterpret the signs; one accepts them, quite rightly, as growing pains. One takes them seriously, listens to them, follows where they lead. One is afraid. Naturally. Who is not afraid of pure space — that breath-taking empty space of an open door? But despite fear, one goes through to the room beyond.

But in middle age, because of the false assumption that it is a period of decline, one interprets these life signs, paradoxically, as signs of approaching death. Instead of facing them, one runs away; one escapes — into depressions, nervous breakdowns, drink, love affairs, or frantic, thoughtless, fruitless overwork. Anything rather than face them. Anything, rather than stand still and learn from them. One tries to cure the signs of growth, to exorcise them, as if they were devils, when really they might be angels of annunciation.

Angels of annunciation of what? Of a new stage in living when, having shed many of the physical struggles, of worldly ambitions, the material encumbrances of active life, one might be free to fulfill the neglected side of one’s self. One might be free for growth of mind, heart, and talent; free at last for spiritual growth; free of the clamping sunrise shell. Beautiful as it was, it was still a closed world one had to outgrow.

So this is for Muriel, and for everyone else who is about to turn 50, or has recently turned 50, or who is dreading turning 50.

May the next 10 years be the best years of your life.

Things Can Always Get Worse

Friday, May 4, 2018

 

I feel like this should be my motto: Things Can Always Get Worse. (It pairs well with the Currie Rule.)

The place I worked throughout most of the 1990s and a little bit of the 2000s was run by a person who was very good at a few parts of his job but very bad at all the rest. He resembled in many key aspects Dilbert’s Pointy-Haired Boss.

His second-in-command was a woman who was, for lack of a better term, Insane. She lied and manipulated information. She told people she was a CIA agent. (Which may have been true, who knows.) She spoke with a British accent which made her sound very authoritative. She had stout legs and wore low heels and you could hear her coming from across the office, clicking her way through the tiled mail room. Click, click, click. She wore scarves and chunky necklaces. When she said, “Many people have said….”, you knew she was lying. The “many people” was a dead giveaway. (Hmm… who does that sound like?)

Eventually she did something so over the top that she got herself canned. I don’t remember exactly what it was, or maybe I never knew for sure. I have a vague recollection of it involving her trying to get someone else fired, but doing such a bad job lying that it was too much even for the Pointy-Haired Boss.

She was fired during the work week and escorted from the building. She was allowed back on Saturday to clear out her office, along with an escort. I was there that Saturday, working, and I think maybe they were supposed to have been there earlier, or to come in on Sunday, but changed plans but I wasn’t notified. I don’t think I would have gone in on purpose when they were there. I remember it being very tense and wishing I wasn’t there.

There was much rejoicing at our place of work after Insane Person was fired. Ding, dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead. (She actually had a witch’s hat in her office. I ended up with it. It lives on a hat rack in my garage/studio/office. A friend came to my office once, saw the hat and said, “I always knew you were a witch.”)

We were all thrilled after this turn of events, the source of so much turmoil and so many of our problems was gone. Gone!

They hired someone new to replace her. And the new person was very nice, not evil at all. But she also appeared to be not at all qualified to do her job. Even after months and months to get up to speed, she seemed to have very little grasp of what was important or how things worked. She barely participated in meetings and rarely provided anything of value when it came to analysis or decision-making.

At one point I found myself saying, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually miss Insane Person. At least she knew what was going on.”

This was a great and lasting lesson for me.

I learned that no matter how bad you think things are, they can always get worse. You may solve one problem, and it may even be your biggest problem, but that doesn’t mean all of your problems are gone. You may just end up with a bunch of new problems that you never even thought about before.

This is what I’ve been thinking about lately.

But instead of focusing on the bad things that might happen, I will end on a positive note, with a link to my ’80s friend Howard Jones who tells us that the opposite is true: Things can only get better.

If you say so, Howard. If you say so.

Giving Thanks

Friday, November 24, 2017

Here are some things I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017.

I am thankful for Roger the auto mechanic & tow truck driver at Brown’s Towing and Auto Repair in South Hill, Virginia.

I am thankful that I remembered to pick up my phone before leaving on my trip this morning.

I am thankful that my phone eventually connected to a wireless network in the I-85 rest stop in Warfield, Virginia.

I am thankful that I had sufficent Airvoice minutes on my phone to call/text/google everyone that I needed to call/text /google from the I-85 rest stop in Warfield, Virginia.

I am thankful for my friend Sara who said sure I can drive to South Hill, Virginia and pick you up.

I am thankful that my phoneless friend Sara’s friend that she works for gave her an iPad that she carries with her all the time now so when I send an email from I-85 asking if anyone is up for a Thanksgiving adventure, she gets the email even though she is out and about doing things.

I am thankful for my neighbor Avonia who heaped mountains of food on me and my friend Sara after we returned from our South Hill adventure.

And last but not least…

I am thankful that my thumb that I slammed in the car door while standing on the flatbed truck with my soon-to-be-towed car eventually stopped bleeding.

I hope that everyone is well and happy. And that your Thanksgiving thanks this year are less wide ranging than mine.

Bye Miss Kitty

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

So for a while I’ve been joking with friends about how my life feels like a TV show. I had been saying it was like a sitcom — there were two sets (The Scrap Exchange and Duke Gardens) and everyone on the show had to be somehow related to everyone else. Lately there’s been more drama so I’ve moved on to saying it’s more of a telenovela. I send updates to my friends entitled “Don’t Miss This Week’s Exciting Episode!”

Of course most of the drama has been coming from work. I know that many people might question my decision to spend $35,000+ on a graduate degree and then take a part-time job making less than $25,000 a year, but I get to sleep late (my work schedule starts at 1 p.m.) and, for better or worse, there is never a dull moment.

We have a weekly executive committee meeting where the admin folks can touch base on whatever important things have come up. This meeting happens at 1 o’clock on Tuesdays.

The Tuesday before last (5/16) I walked in to a discussion of the current employee drama which we had been dealing with for a few weeks. We have an employee who has been suffering through a series of seriously terrible life complications, the latest of which involved her losing her apartment. That day’s development was that she had secured a place to stay but her cat couldn’t stay there. She was upset. The cat was upstairs. We discussed options, one of which was for the cat to live at The Scrap Exchange. (Executive Director: “No.”) The next was for someone to take the cat. Deputy Director lives in very small house and already has cats. Operations Manager has two kids, including a 6-month-old baby, and is allergic to cats. Retail Manager and Executive Director both have multiple pets. Apparently all other possibilities that have been considered have pets or allergies — it turns out that I am the only person at The Scrap Exchange with neither.

I say, “Okay, that’s fine. I can take the cat.”

Have I ever had a cat? No, I have not. But I have lots of friends with cats and it doesn’t seem that complicated. I feel confident that I can handle this.

Now the cat that I was thinking the employee had was a cat that kept sneaking in to The Scrap Exchange and hanging out; on multiple occasions it was found in the Hall of Affordable Art (everyone’s favorite location at The Scrap Exchange). The employee now dealing with serial crises fell in love with the cat and took it home with her. This was a few months ago, pre-crises. It was a pretty sweet cat, and seemed chill, so it seemed like it would be fine for me to take it for a bit until the housing situation shook out.

After the meeting, Deputy Director tells Employee that I will take the cat, so they come down to the office with the cat and it turns out it is not the cat I was thinking of, a grown, chill, fully functioning cat. It is a little bitty kitten. Employee is like, “Thank you so much! Here she is,” and hands over the kitten. She tells me its name is Erica, named after her brother who was killed exactly a month before the kitten came into her life. In my head, I am thinking (a) man, that is a lot to put on a tiny little kitten, naming it after your dead brother and (b) I am not calling this kitten Erica.

[Side note: Somewhat unclear what happened to the other cat, its disappearance seemingly connected to recent breakup with boyfriend, I decided to not ask too many questions. The new cat apparently came in with a donation — details also unclear and I decided to not ask too many questions. Welcome to The Scrap Exchange. And welcome to my world where you go to work and come home with a kitten. This is definitely a sitcom episode.]

We got a box for the kitten to hang out in. We attached a string to the side of the box so we could distract her as needed while I tried to finish the work day. She slept for a while in the box, then realized she could climb out of the box, so she was able to explore the wide world of the office, then she curled up on the chair next to the desk I was working at and slept some more.

When it was time to go home I got her back in the box and took the box out to my car and was faced with the first challenge of figuring out how to get a box with a kitten in it into my car. I have a Miata. This was not a trivial task. But the box did fit once I angled it properly and I started to drive home and the kitten pretty much immediately figured out how to get out of the box. But there isn’t really anywhere to go in a Miata and she wasn’t freaking out or anything so I just let her wander around. Seemed safer than trying to figure out how to get her to stay in the box while I was driving.

We got home and I probably should have gone to get her food but I didn’t want to go out again and I’d cooked a chicken that weekend so I fed her some of that and she seemed to be okay so I decided that would be good enough for now. I also didn’t have a litter box and I had no idea how that was going to work, but she was so little that I figured if she did make a mess somewhere, it wouldn’t be that much of a mess, and I would just deal with it then.

She explored the house while I sat at the dining room table eating dinner and reading the paper. She liked jumping up on the somewhat unstable bookshelf I have attached to the wall, and at first I tried to get her to stop but I realized that wasn’t going to work so I took the books off. I could just imagine myself telling Employee that her kitten was crushed to death in tragic cookbook accident. Death by Julia Child. Not pretty.

I wasn’t paying all that much attention and she seemed to be staying out of trouble. Eventually I notice that behind me I am hearing paper rustling noises. I figure this is the cat checking out the pile of newspaper on the floor and the paper bag with papers ready to go to the recycle bin. But the paper rustling noises go on and on. Finally I turn around to see what’s going on and the kitten is working on making a little indentation in the bag, like a little nest. She finishes with that and curls up in it and goes to sleep. And I’m like okay that does not look comfortable. Is that really the best my house has to offer? Sliding off the side of a paper bag with newspaper in it?

cat sleeping on bag

Paper Bed

But whatever. To each his own. I let her be.

After I finished eating, I moved over to the armchair that lives in the corner of the dining room, where I often work with my computer on my lap. Miss Kitty wakes up and starts running around again. She likes to make a circuit around the room — up the chair, across the empty bookshelf, over to the papers, up the shelf, back to me and around the room again. This would be fine if the circuit didn’t involve running directly across my keyboard. Sometimes she would stop to hang out.

cat in front of computer

Lots of CTRL-Z action that night.

She eventually stopped the circuit and slept for a while on the shelf, then moved on to the back of the chair where she slept with her paw on my shoulder.

I got up to go to bed and wasn’t sure what I was going to do with her, I didn’t have a kitty bed or anything set up. I also wasn’t sure what she was expecting since I had no idea what she had been doing previously. Or even what you’re supposed to do with a kitten. Where do kittens spend the night? I guess I would find out.

She followed me into the bedroom and I got in bed and turned off the light and after about a minute I heard a little “Meow? …. Meow?” Which even I, a feline neophyte, could translate: “Where are you?”

I picked her up and put her on the bed. She curled up next to me and we went to sleep.

She pretty much left me alone the first night. She thought it was time to get up when it got  light out but I was like no we’ve only been in bed a few hours, it’s not time to get up yet. She went back to sleep.

I got up a little before my usual time and I played with her a little bit then tried to finish the editing work I’d been doing the night before. I called the office and said I’d be in late, I was trying to finish my edits, and I knew I would never get to them once I got to the office. Some things are just impossible to do there.

I went in around 2 p.m. and hoped for the best with Kitty by herself in the house.

I talked to Ann about trying to figure out what I needed for litter box. Fortunately we work in the Land of Abundance, so we went in to the retail store and Ann found a container that would work and gave me some tips on where to put it, etc. Total cost: $2.35.

I left work a little earlier than usual and came home to see how she did. Everything seemed fine.

I fed her some more of the chicken and she did the same thing she’d done the night before. She’d snatch a piece out of my hand and run across the room and huddle in a corner, eating it before anyone could come and take it away from her. She’d come back when she was finished and get another piece and run back to the corner. After the first few pieces she was calmer when getting more, but she still kept going across the room to eat it.

I took  her out on the porch to see if she wanted to explore, and she was happy to check out the porch but was not interested in the wider world.

I talked a friend who has cats into going to the grocery store with me. She came over and we went off and did battle with the pet aisle. Talk about paradox of choice, holy cow. But we picked out food and kitty litter and went home and got the litter box set up.

My friend was like okay now you put her in it. So we put her in the litter box and she stands completely still for about 5 seconds then starts scratching and puts out this HUGE poop. I was like man I wonder how long she was holding that for. Poor thing.

So now we had food and a litter box. We were set.

I was prepared to have her for a few days, maybe a week. On Thursday 5/18, I talked to Employee who said she should be able to take her back between June 1 and June 19. I was like “Oh! Okay.”

That is more than a week. I had to change my mindset a bit.

I quickly learned that kitties like to play. A lot. Her favorite activity was playing with a string (the one we taped to the box at work) or a shoelace. Endlessly fascinating! I would dangle it; she would attack. My favorite part was when she’d flip herself over trying to jump up and grab it.

She liked to play hide and seek, and to have me chase her. When I’d walk into my bedroom, she’d run ahead of me and run under the bed, then stick her head out from behind the blanket chest that sits at the foot of the bed. She’d sit at the corner of the bed, in the nook made by the chest, and wait for me to walk past, then run to the other side of the room, then back under the bed. Like playing peek-a-boo.

When I’d walk toward the bathroom, Miss Kitty would come with me. She’d wait for me in the hall, crouching against the wall just outside the door, and when I walked out she’d pounce at my feet, then run in front of me down the hallway.

All of it reminded me of my niece when she was little; she loved it when I would pretend to be a monster and chase her around the house. I’m going to get you! I’m going to get you! As she ran and squealed, looking over her shoulder at me clomping behind her.

My nights of extended sleep didn’t go so well after the first few nights. Kitty figured out that she could jump up on the bed on her own — it was like someone scaling a cliff in the movies, she’d get the edge of her claws over the top and … unhh unhh …  pull herself the rest of the way up.

If I lay very still,  she would give up quickly after I turned out the light, but in the mornings that strategy didn’t work. She was like okay time to play! Sometimes I could get her to stop by covering up everything and not reacting at all as she poked and prodded me. But in a few minutes she’d try again, tapping my cheek with her little kitty paw. Kitty was sweet, but I don’t give up my sleep for anything. Once I realized she wasn’t going to let it go, I’d pick her up and put her out in the hallway and close the door. Zzzzzz.

The first few nights she played a little bit rough, she scratched up my legs and bit my hands and arms. I worked on behavior modification and it got better, but I feel like she couldn’t quite get what the problem was. She stopped putting out her claws when she played. She would gently grab my arm before she sunk her pointy little teeth into it. I would say NO! STOP! NO BITE! And she would look so confused: Why person no want play? Hm. Will try again.

She just couldn’t get what she was doing wrong.

I did manage to get her to stop jumping up on the dining room table with the help of a spray bottle filled with water. She jumped on the table, I squirted her. She shook her head, turned around, jumped back down on to the chair. A few minutes later, she jumped up again. I squirted, she fled. She tried again a few minutes later. I reached for the bottle and she hightailed it off of there.

FACT: Kitties do not like being sprayed with water.

Our basic routine was that I would chase her and play with her after I got up, while I took care of house things and ate breakfast and read the paper, and then again at night after I got home from work. She would hang out in the dining room with me while I ate or worked or studied. Then after I went to bed, she’d spend most of the night in my room; I’d put her out in the morning so I could get a few extra hours of sleep.

On Thursday 5/25 I took a day trip to High Point. I’d been planning on taking the train — I love the train — but then the power went out at work on Wednesday so I had many unfinished work items to take care of, and at the last minute I decided I should drive so I could come home earlier. I didn’t want to be gone all day and then work all night, leaving Miss Kitty home by herself for 18 hours.

I left around 7:15 a.m. and got home around 5 p.m. I played with kitty for a few minutes then took a nap. Kitty let me sleep but got up on the bed once I was awake and wanted to play. I  got up and ate and played with her for a few more minutes then headed to my office.

I worked for a few hours to try to get caught up from the power outage and the day out of town. I finished late, and came inside and went straight to bed. I was tired. Kitty was not sympathetic. Kitty was like I’m sorry but you have not met Kitty Play Quota today. You cannot sleep until Kitty Play Quota has been met!

I put the pillow over my head. She snuck under and around it, whiskers on my face. She would not take no for an answer. I removed her to the hallway. She figured out that the door didn’t latch and she could just push it open. Back on to the bed. Play! Play! Play! I put her out in to the hallway and put a pile of books in front of the door. Checkmate. Zzzzzz.

Phone rang at 10:30 a.m. No message. Rang again. No message. Rang again, I got up to answer. Opened the door and Kitty sitting there. Did she sit there all night, in the same spot in front of the door?

Phone was kitty mom saying she got a place to stay and she could take her baby back. I made arrangements to meet her at 1 o’clock, before I went to work.

Got back into bed to wake up and let kitty try to play with me, launching herself across the bed at my head.

Did my morning stuff — shower, newspaper, breakfast — then got kitty things together and put it all in the car. Put kitty in banker’s box, which fit better in my car than the box I brought her home in, but which she also did not want to stay in once I started driving. Met up with kitty mom.  Kitty was okay for most of it but got nervous when I tried to hand her over. I put her back in the box and we did the transfer that way.

After thinking I’d have her for a few days or a week, and then trying to prepare myself for a month, it turned out to be 10 days after all. Kittens are cute. It’s hard not to get attached.

And I know there’s plenty more where she came from, but I’m not sure if I liked the experience enough to want to go through it willingly (as opposed to having it foisted upon me). I think I might like to sleep too much to have a pet.

But anyway this is my tribute to Miss (Erica) Kitty. May she live long and prosper.