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The Return of Cat TV

Everyone has their own indicator for when spring starts.The first robin. The first golf game without a winter jacket. The lilacs blooming. For us it’s the start of Cat TV. Cat TV starts on the day that we can first open the windows and pull the screens down. It usually starts in the dining room (the window is easily accessible) and moves to the living room (table in front of the window). Both cats race to the first one open. When they’re both open, they choose whichever has the best picture. During the day it’s a toss-up, but at night the living room is definitely favorite since the lights attract bugs.

Cat TV is undoubtedly a popular time for the cats. Unfortunately, it also coincides with the time of year when we notice that we can’t see through the windows from all the gunk that the storms brought all winter. At least for me, the problem with washing the windows is that once it gets hot, we close all the drapes against the sun. You may remember that we live in an old farmhouse with a boiler for heat. Apparently farmers in the 1920’s did not see a need for central air. Probably something to do with being out in the sun all day making anything feel cooler. Or possibly that AC hadn’t been invented or discovered or however it came to be.

OK, windows have fallen to the bottom of the list. If I want to see the weather, I’ll take a chair and sit outside. We have a lot of trees. The traffic isn’t too bad and goes by at 55 mph (or so). If I’m really motivated, I can sit in the backyard.

Of course, it’s a lot more pleasant to sit in the yard if the grass has been mowed. Our lawnmower broke toward the very end of mowing season last year. We’ve been meaning to get one for awhile, but you know that goes… It will be delivered today. I’m not good with mechanical things – do they come with a machete function? I really should have bought that alpaca. It is amazing how quickly grass will grow when it knows you have no defense.

The other day my husband jokingly suggested that we replace our grass with lemon basil. Apparently it only grows a few inches high, so it wouldn’t require cutting. We may have to try it. If the deer and the rabbits and the rest of the beasties like it, maybe they’ll get full before they make it to the shrubs in the front. Or maybe it would just be a first course for them.  We could try phlox. Every year I cut it back and every year it takes over the sidewalk by the time it’s warm enough to garden.

I remember a humorous story by a Soviet writer (I wish I could remember his name) about the electrification of the Soviet Union in the 1920’s (bet it didn’t include AC either). A government official was going around asking the peasants how much they enjoyed their new light. When he got to one house, he noticed that the light bulbs had been removed. He asked the woman about it. She told him that she didn’t realize how dirty her house was until she got the lights.

I am looking around the house and seeing about twenty things that could be done. And I continue to sit here and write this post. Why does housework have to be so boring and repetitive? That’s the real reason men resisted women moving into the workforce. They knew that some of that stuff would eventually become their responsibility. When my kids were younger, I’d read articles about how to make cleaning up more fun. I’m really glad I didn’t lie to them about that.

I have a pile of books that I want to read sitting on the table behind me. Actually it’s grown to two piles in the time I’ve been trying to get to them. I can hear some voices in the back row: “You need to make time for yourself.” That’s great, but if I make that much time for myself, the dust bunnies are going to find out, get organized, and take over the house.

Thinking about it, I also have magazines, crossword puzzles, and books in the living room. And the bedroom. It’s probably a good thing they don’t do periodic fire safety inspections on houses. It’s truly unfortunate that we don’t entertain much anymore – we always cleaned the house thoroughly before we let anyone in.

And don’t forget about the closets. I need to bring out my summer stuff. Actually it’s more about putting away the winter stuff. When you don’t have AC, it is really unpleasant to be rummaging through heavy knits to find the sundresses. To say nothing of the psychological damage thinking about winter in July could cause.

I really should do that thing about throwing away anything I haven’t worn in the past 12 months. Unfortunately due to wearing a uniform I don’t have to change after work in the winter, I really don’t have any idea what I would wear if I got another job. And if I can’t do the winter clothes, why bother with the summer clothes?

I’m sure there are other things to do, but thankfully, I can’t think of them right now. Guess I’ll go watch Cat TV and see if they come to me.

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In Praise of Thumbs

No offense intended to the rest of the digits, but thumbs definitely rock. I guess it’s their opposability. (WordPress says that isn’t a word, but play along.) That and their ability to play well with others.

As usual with these things, it came to mind because one of mine is being difficult. As you may have guessed, hauling boxes of cheese around and putting it on hooks is kind of physical work. Thankfully I haven’t had any trouble with my back. (Leg and abdominal muscles also deserve a round of applause while we’re at it.)

Not so much luck with my right arm. The current issue (hence the title) is my thumb. I’m not sure if it’s tendons, joints, muscles or whatever. It kept me awake a couple of nights. Yesterday it was awful. Today it felt like something snapped a few times in my hand/wrist and it’s much better. I think it’s some kind of evil spirit.

Some days I have almost nothing to think about at work and my mind wanders. It’s been like that for years, but is much less disruptive without the job requiring thought. Unless you count matching the colors on bags of cheese as deep thought. In which case we should probably talk about the viability of your own blog.

Without further ado, here are some of the things thumbs don’t get much respect for:

It is almost impossible to zip up jeans without using your right thumb. It is particularly an issue if you have gained weight since the last time you wore the jeans. Or are in denial about the true size of your body.

Pulling open potato chip (or other unhealthy) bags. It seems like such a failure to need to resort to scissors. Besides, it’s pathetic to need something like that so badly that you can’t wait. Go with an ice cream cone.

Holding an apple while you eat it, even if you slice it. Or French Fries. Or pickles. Some things just can’t be held like a cigarette, and a lot of them are food. Do you have any idea how silly you would look holding a pickle spear between your first two fingers when there is no obvious reason for it?

Doing dishes. I admit it. We are also the only family in suburbia without a dishwasher. Holding soapy dishes without using your thumb is most useful for getting rid of the hideous dishes someone gave you for your wedding but you haven’t ever gotten around to sending to charity.

Holding your cat while you try to brush the winter furs out from the spring ones. One one cat seems to be a cross between a Siamese and something that lives in the Arctic circle. Gorgeous soft fur that sheds and sheds and sheds.

Peeling vegetables. Probably less of an issue for those of you who live at Taco Bell or PF Chang’s. Or have a significant other who cooks. Or children who could be coerced into doing it. Or use frozen vegetables.

Writing by hand. It means taking a pen or pencil and making marks on a piece of paper that someone else can look at and see meaning. It is a relative of texting and email which are also more difficult but don’t require grasping a small round instrument to do. Also crossword puzzles.

Opening pill bottles to get at the pain relievers that are supposed to make it easier to do things with your injured thumb. You need one hand to hold the bottle and the other to push down or line up or whatever to get the bottle to actually open. Both jobs require thumbs.

Forks are really difficult. Chopsticks are impossible. Of course, it takes me several bites to remember how to use chopsticks anyway. You can’t even pick up the food discretely in your hand. Forget eating that really excellent chip dip at the party unless you want to have your date feed it to you. Don’t do that unless you are still in high school or it is your wedding.

Shaking hands. You will feel like the dog when he puts his paw in yours and you shake it up and down. You will have no control over how long or hard it is shaken. I do not recommend growling to get it back.

Holding the shampoo bottle while you are pouring some into the other hand. Same problem with controlling the force of ketchup. Pump bottles start to look better.

Using a corkscrew. I guess you shouldn’t be drinking alone in the first place, so this issue can probably take care of itself. Let’s hope they remember to take the cork off the pointy thing after it’s out of the bottle.

Turning the key in your ignition. Unless you have a button ignition. In which case, you probably have one of those gear shift levers on the floor that you have to press with your thumb to release it for the rest of your hand to pull back. Once you get moving, you’re fine.

Scraping the snow from your car. Never mind. We won’t think about that.

Snaps, hooks, buttons. Tying your shoes. Might work as an excuse to go to work in your pajamas. Doubt it, but you never know. Going in naked is an even worse option.

Of course, you can also perform most forms of housework and lawn maintenance poorly. Unfortunately it’s sort of a mixed blessing since you’ll have to fix it all eventually. You may have the same issue if you get your spouse or children to do it for you.

On the bright side, there is more white space and fewer words in my post. You should be able to get through it more quickly.

(Correction to previous post: Dick and Jane’s cat is Puff, not Fluffy)