Friday, June 11, 2010

The writing class reconvened yesterday after a break of several weeks while Suzanne, our instructor, sojourned in the West. The class provided a perfect opportunity to begin my training in the arts of insufferably proud grandfatherhood. "Oh," I said, as we sat around the table. "How did that happen? How foolish of me; I seem to have inadvertently brought along the May/June issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the one with Russ' cartoon featured at the bottom of page 60... You'd like to see it? ...Are you sure? I mean, we just have so much to do... Do we have time? ...Well, if you insist, I'll pass it around."

They were all duly impressed. Suzanne went so far as to suggest that I might mention Russ' name if I submitted something to one of the magazines that has published his cartoons. I think she was joking about having Russ open doors for me, but I'm not sure.

The point of all this, which I have thus far so niftily avoided, has to do with the black-and-white cat in the cartoon, which looks like it might be a cousin of Cuddles, the cat that came to live with us last fall. She was just a kitten at the time, and her previous address was the Animal Protective League. In her first few months with us, Cuddles displayed the usual feline attitudes toward the people in her life: she tolerated them for a few minutes each day and ignored them the rest of the time. She did at times seem a little sweet on Aaron, Nancy's son, but was always less than impressed with Nancy and me.

Then came spring. The sky cleared and the sun rose higher and stayed out longer, sending its rays through the living room and dining room windows in the late afternoon and early evening. A byproduct of the sunlight are the reflections that dances on the walls or floor; those Tinkerbells that spring from a glass of water on the table, or a shiny book cover or from the spoon in the hands of a devious diner. Living in the restrictive environment of 3126 Lincoln Drive, Cuddles can be excused for mistaking the sprightly reflections for prey. When she spots one, she gives chase.

Less excusable, though, is the behavior of the guy in the power wheelchair. With a host of reflective do-dads, the wheelchair is the most dependable source of enticing light. The fellow in the wheelchair will sometimes move back and forth in a small arc so he can watch Cuddles chase the elusive sparkle the chair creates on the floor. Hunched down and alert, she will spring forward and try to capture the light with her forepaws. But the light keeps going, and Cuddles springs again and then again and again without success. The guy in the wheelchair enjoys playing this game that Cuddles can't win. Even when she wins, she loses. She lands on the light, and it disappears. Well not quite, it's now shining on the middle of her back and she can't see it.

Cuddles, however, remains undeterred. During those few hours before the sun goes down, she often behaves in a very canine sort of way. Cuddles will find a spot a few feet from the wheelchair and quietly lie there. She appears to be sleeping, but the truth is, she is on full alert. She ignores every sound in the house except the sound of wheelchair. And when she hears the wheelchair, she springs up and looks to see where the guy in it might be going. There's no way of knowing if Cuddles enjoys this, but the guy in the wheelchair does. But once the sun goes down, the guy in the wheelchair is just another guy.

Cuddles has other odd behaviors. While Nancy and I were having breakfast yesterday, Nancy spotted a hummingbird out front. As we watched the hummingbird flit about outside, Cuddles was equally intent as she watched a common housefly that was inspecting the ceiling fan. It hardly seems possible that any creature would find a housefly more intriguing than a hummingbird. Still, I didn't see that fly, or any fly, the rest of the day. Could it be that the ever vigilant Cuddles is keeping the pests at bay?

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