2010.03.31 A little soft in the head

Written by David Green.

By Colleen Leddy

I made the announcement over dinner.

“I touched the cat today and he was soft.”

“Mom!” said Maddy with her brand of 12-year-old exasperation.

I never touch the cat. I don’t like the cat. He’s always trying to sneak into the house. He doesn’t know his boundaries. That’s not quite true—he knows them, he just stretches them. I tolerate his presence on the porch in the sumer and reluctantly cave in to his sorrowful face in the winter and allow him refuge in our heated entry way. But when he thinks he can lounge on my new living room chair, well, I remember why I don’t like cats.

And when he thinks he can spend a perfectly lovely, sunny and warm spring day in the house, I nudge his immense furball of a body outside. Last Thursday, I told him it was too nice to be indoors and kicked him out. I was also on my way out and followed him onto the porch. He stopped short of the porch door and it was a good thing. It reminded me that the front steps had been removed the day before. I needed to set my stuff down and hunker down to jump the three feet to the newly poured base of concrete below.

I jumped and Cooner, nickname for Raccoon, hung back. C’mon Cat, it’s your turn, I told him. He wavered. Too risky a jump, I suppose he thought. I tugged the rug he stood on, gently pulling it to the edge of the porch. Nothing doing. He bailed before the end of the rug reached the edge. C’mon Cat, you can’t spend the day on the porch. I clicked my tongue and he moved closer. Not knowing what else to do, I reached for him and just barely touched the fur on his back as he shrunk away. While I expressed astonishment at how soft his fur was, he merely rolled over on his back and purred for me to continue with this unexpected gift of pleasure.

But I couldn’t do it. I don’t pet cats. I refuse to be won over by this finicky species that specializes in wrecking new chairs. My attempts to get him off the porch failed so I left for work. When I got home several hours later, he was still there. I told Maddy to put him off the porch. She protested that he wasn’t going to be able to jump back up when he wanted to come in, but she heeded my wishes and put him out.

In my defense I must point out that I am nice to humans—such as my daughter Rosie.

When David started telling about Rosie’s early morning foray in to the world, I leapt to my feet.

“Did Rosie tell you how she started off the morning? She went out to get the newspaper.…”

“Oh, my God!” My imagination filled in the blanks. I pictured Rosie walking out the door, suspended in air before she realized there were no steps, crashing in a heap.

“Oh, Rosie, are you all right?” I yelled as I went looking for her. It was as if it had just happened, and I was filled with compassion. I expected to find her cut and bruised.

Sitting at the computer, she looked up at me inquisitively.

“You know, what happened this morning—when you went to get the Free Press,” I reminded her.

“Oh,” she laughed. “I landed on my feet.”

Just like a cat.

And what about the cat, I wondered with a pang of guilt much later that night when I realized it was raining. Wonder where he’s sleeping. I hadn’t seen him since Maddy lifted him off the porch around 4 p.m. and now it was 2:30 a.m.

I opened the porch door and there he was meowing away in the rain. Ugh, I thought, it’s either walk around to the back of the house in the rain and hope he follows me to the back porch so I can let him in and chase him to the front entry, or it’s pick him up and plunk him on the porch.

To my own amazement, I coaxed him to me—using his bowl of Purina Cat Chow—and bent down to pick him up. It took three tries—he kept backing away. I was not surprised. Why should he trust this woman who continuously calls him, “Dang Dog,” as in “You Dang Dog, who do you think you are to sit on my chair with your dang dirty feet and your dang claws pulling threads and dropping your fur and shedding all over?” not to mention Ratfink, Fat Cat, and Freakin’ Furball, but he finally let me pick him up.

I hate to admit it, but Cooner’s fur isn’t the only thing that’s soft.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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