Mr. Watts

 

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This is Watts. He’s our big orange tomcat. Can you tell he thinks he owns the place?

We adopted him from my cousin’s farm a few years ago. He was tiny and hungry and needed a home. He came to us startlingly protective of his food, and sort of fierce, yet willing to cuddle up in my sweatshirt and nap. He got really sick when he was still a tiny guy and we had to get him IV antibiotics. We were all so worried that you’d have thought he was a real baby. He is the least friendly cat I’ve ever owned, but even with his “dark side” as we call it, we all love him so much.

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Even as a tiny kitten, he has always been a commanding force. My niece Riley started calling him Mr. Watts when he was just a couple months old, and it fit so much that we still call him Mr. Watts. Which is funny because we don’t really stand on ceremony around here and the only people we give titles to are teachers. And cats, apparently.

Watts will gently headbump Steve, or try to clean my face if he’s in the mood. But most times, he accept a handful of pets from Steve or me before he gets frisky and starts to warn us to knock it off. He doesn’t hurt us, but I wouldn’t really test him. He puts his teeth on our hand without hurting us, just enough to tell us to back the hell off. He’ll come hang out with us on the porch or in the living room, but he insists on having his own chair and would never sit with us or beside us.

That said, Watts is the animal who would protect us from some evil force should we need it. I have no doubt that if something bad occurred, Watts would go down swinging as the one who tried to save us all. He will occasionally be cuddly and want our affection, but the majority of the time, he merely tolerates our affection.

When I took him to the vet the last time, he kind of freaked out and wouldn’t let anyone touch him. Not even me. They gave him something to calm him down and sent us home with a borrowed pet crate, for the protection of all of us. So, he’s kind of a wild card.

You can see why we might worry about bringing, say, a little kitten, into in the house.

Only here’s the thing about my tough guy Watts. He loves babies.

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All babies of all kinds. He loves the kids in some way that makes him seem like a completely different cat. His patience with them far exceeds what any other cat I’ve had would accept. He is happy to be cuddled with and kissed and dragged around. He works diligently to sneak into their rooms at night so he can sleep with them. He is mellow and sweet. He is a lover.


Every day, I watch my big beast of a cat play with our tiny kitten, Eleven. She wraps her paws around his neck and bites. In return, he cleans her. She wrestles him and bites him and he allows it. He plays back so gently that she doesn’t need to cry out. He wouldn’t hurt her. It warms my heart, this love. This sweet gentle love coming from my tough guy.

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It makes me think we all have this. These gifts hiding just on the other side of our dark side. That even a rough and tumble tomcat has a gentle side. A kryptonite that turns him to putty.

We all have something that make us crumble and turn to love.

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Still With Me

I’ve been missing my mom.

There was the initial relief that she was no longer suffering (and the constant stream of people and things to do after she passed away), but that has all subsided and I’m left with “normal” life. Only since my mom has always been a part of my daily life, even more so as her health deteriorated over the last few years, it feels very abnormal to be without her. Even when I first moved out to Colorado 20 years ago, I called her every day. And even at my busiest time with 2 or 3 or 4 kids to chase, my mom was the person that I sent my texts and pictures and told my stories about every little or big thing in my life. I took her to the doctor and the store and to lunch and to all of the kids’ activities. Rarely did a few days go by without seeing her, or hours without being in touch and checking in to see if she was doing okay. And now, there is just a hole. It’s a terrible feeling, that hole.

My mom told me at least 100 times that she would always be with me. She believed that we are more than just our bodies, and I believe that too. It’s brought me peace, truly it has. But still, I wish she could sit here with me and see the kids grow. Come over for dinner. Gather my articles and photos from the newspaper for me like she always did. Even in the nursing home, unable to leave the bed, she managed to collect them for me. I can’t seem to remember to go buy them for myself after all the years of her proudly collecting them.

So I was thinking about my mom and was starting to feel pretty sad about her not being here. And then I was looking through some old photos on my phone the other night. I don’t remember what I was looking for, but I was scrolling through older images and I came across some screenshots that I took of a Facebook conversation. It was in October, just days after my mom broke her pelvis, and it was the first time since that injury that she was on Facebook and commenting on anything. She was being very silly (and drugged on painkillers) and making all sorts of funny cat emoticons comments. Like this:

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It was cracking us up, and my daughters and I were commenting back, telling her how glad we were that she was feeling better, and how she was making us laugh. She kept at it.

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I saved three separate screenshots of the conversations. As you can see, they are of cats typing, playing dead and dressed up as a rainbow colored unicorn. Crazy stuff. (I mentioned she was heavily drugged, right? Cause pelvic fractures hurt.)

Anyway, I found those screenshots and I was giggling at them,  feeling better as I thought about how much I always enjoyed my mom’s sense of humor. About how even so broken she kept her spirits up, and ours. And how nice it was to find this little piece of her that I had saved.

But then I found this poem, right in the middle of the three screenshots. Not before, not after. In between. The screenshots of the cat emoticons all say 9:17, and the screenshot of the poem says 1:04. It’s of a totally different thing, and not even anything that I remembered seeing before or capturing. So I stopped to see what it was and to read it.

This is the screenshot:

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I’m sure that some technically savvy soul out there could go digging and find some “logical” explanation for how this happened and why a totally random separate screenshot that I’ve never seen before got popped in-between the three messages I took of my mom being silly at one of her last happy times. I’m sure there is some explanation. People love reasoning and things that can be categorized and easily referenced.

But I’m going to chose to think it is just my mom, stopping in and telling me that she misses me too. Reminding me that she is always here with me, and that I only have to stop for a moment and look, and I will find her.

There’s a Mouse Stuck in a Glue Trap in My Kitchen

There is a mouse in my kitchen, in the back of a drawer, stuck in a glue trap.

Naturally, I’m in the living room, writing about it. Why? Cause I can’t do anything about it. Hell, I can’t even look in the drawer again.

We bought a very old house this fall. Very old, like 118 years old. A huge old house, like 3,200 square feet. And it sat empty for over 2 years. So, a house that’s just empty means centipedes the size of house cats, and mice.

We knew this. I mean, we saw mouse poison and even a few dead mice when we first inspected the house and again when we cleaned it. But we have cats. And really, I’ve lived in houses that had mice before. First off all, because I lived in poverty for years and that means the houses aren’t’ always the best. But I’ve always had cats and that has always immediately solved the mouse problem. They take off for the hills. Until now.

The problem is that even though this is a very nice home, there is a sort of a belly to the house, a undercurrent of places that exist only inside the walls of the house where the cats can’t get to but the mouse (mice?) can. Behind drawers and inside cabinets going into walls that have been renovated over the years. So the mice aren’t scared of the cats there. They are safe there.

I thought of poison but I have kids and even tucked back, it’s too scary. And besides, if a poisoned mouse gets eaten or played with by a cat, the cat gets poisoned. No good. Plus, then the mice will most likely die in the belly of the house. Mice are small, but who wants decomposing small rodents in the house. No. Just no. Poison = bad.

I settled on glue traps. The mice were only showing droppings in the back of 2 drawers and in the cabinet with the cleaning supplies. Perfect. I tucked glue traps back there with some graham cracker stuck in the middle for bait.

This morning, mouse in trap number one. Stuck. ALIVE. Looking at me and squirming. I just shut the drawer.

Fuck.

Now what?

I went to Google. I love Google. It’s my favorite website. I only got so far as to type, “Caught m…” and the first suggestion was, ‘Caught mouse in glue trap now what”

Ahhh, Google. It’s so nice to not feel alone.

Google suggestions….I could hit him with a crow bar. Or a sledgehammer. Or put him in a few bags and drive over him with my van. There was big debate about humane versus inhumane going on…

The thing is, I’m probably a Buddhist. At least, that’s the religion that speaks to me most of all. And in Buddhism, there is this whole “ahimsa,” thing, meaning “non-harming.” A cosmic karma of sorts where all living beings are the same energy and if we harm one, we harm ourselves. I really believe in that. So I let spiders out of the house if I can. I really don’t want to hurt much less kill anything. But mice can’t live here either. So where is the line between harming my family and harming rodents? I don’t know. I do know that they can’t live here and share our house, but I’d prefer the line didn’t settle on a sledgehammer either. I Googled further.

Apparently, I can put the trap and mouse in a sealed container and fill it partially with vegetable oil and “bathe,” the mouse in the oil to free him. Once I free him from the trap, I can take him to a field at least one mile from all buildings and set him free, being careful all the while to wear bite proof gloves and not touch him to avoid diseases. And to do all this fast enough to not suffocate him. Sounds fun, yes?

But it’s literally 0 degrees here this morning, so I’m kind of thinking that setting a wet vegetable-oiled mouse out into the wild this morning might kill him anyway. Thoughts???

So, what to do?

Naturally, write about him, or her. It could be a her. I have no idea. I left it in the drawer and I’m avoiding my kitchen. I’ll play with the baby and hope that’s the only mouse we have. It’s possible.

Happy Friday, all.

P.S. I’d attach a photo, but I really can’t re-open that drawer.