Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Beside my feet, the cat is washing himself--slosh, slosh, slosh. It is amazing how loud a washing cat can be; also, how wet he can sound while looking perfectly dry. A cat is a mysterious and obnoxious being. This one likes to rush into the house for a hug and then rush outside to kill a junco. To make me stop working and do his bidding, he pulls a book off the shelf and then stares at me threateningly. He likes to ride on left shoulders only. Right shoulders are, in his view, the work of the devil. He also enjoys going for walks with the dog and admiring his reflection in puddles and biting the hand that feeds him. It is hard to understand why anyone would house such a beast, and yet he is adored by all. An acquaintance recently posited that his relationship with his pets is a version of Stockholm syndrome. This seems entirely plausible.

But enough with the cat chatter. After a couple of days of rain, this morning's sky is clean and blue, and the yard is striped with sun shadows. Tom will be tiling the kitchen floor today, so the house is topsy-turvy--refrigerator in the living room, kitchen stove off limits, a makeshift bridge to the bathroom.

Topsy-turvy is a word that reminds me of Mary Poppins. (I mean the books, not the movie: the Mary Poppins of the books is rude, snappish, and self-centered; as illustration, see the above description of my cat. The Mary Poppins of the movie is Julie Andrews.) Topsy-turvy implies an Edwardian sort of mess: problems with Cook or the gardener, perhaps; or Papa's slippers missing from their unusual place by the gas fire; or foreboding issues concerning drains and the laundry copper and nursery tea. As Mary Poppins of the book threads her way through these various manifestations of topsy-turviness, she exudes a reliable mixture of arrogance, blame, magical distraction, and lies. Everyone loves it. (Mary Poppins of the movie smiles and sings songs. Dick Van Dyke loves it.)

Sadly, I do not have anyone to march me to the park, make the carousel horses come alive, go on an adventure with me, and then accuse me of fabrication when I mention how much fun we had. How easy it is to be cozy about tyranny. I devoured those books when I was young. And I am devoted to this stupid cat.

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