Monday, January 29, 2007

New Home, Old Fears

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"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never hurts to ask for what you want." (J.W. Krutch)

It has been one full week since Janice and I moved into the new home. Thus far, we have managed to repair most of the obvious problems and, soon enough, the vinyl windows will be installed and we can then get on with the rest of the renovations. Some of the fixtures here are rather unique, so there is a challenge in finding the right parts. A simple faucet repair almost became a nightmare and without the help of someone else who had ordered the wrong parts for her own shower, I would have been waiting three weeks to get a part for mine! Turned out that her wrong part was my right one! (It pays to strike up conversation while in line at the hardware store.) Other than a leaky faucet and some non-working electrical outlets, everything seems in good mechanical order. I do not expect any major problems.

Our commute to work from the old place took anywhere from 35 minutes on a Saturday morning to a full hour in weekday traffic, depending on road conditions. In addition, we were forced, by demands of geography, to drive through the city along the most direct route to work just beyond its limits. Driving itself isn't so bad but other motorists can be a real headache. The ultimate down-side of urban traffic is the urban motorist; not known for courtesy or driving skill. (I wonder if anyone ever tells African-American drivers where the turn signal is or what purpose it serves.) Under good road conditions, city folk drive like wild animals and, should it rain or snow, then suddenly behave as if boulders are falling from the sky and thus bring traffic to a complete standstill.

The new route to the office is a dream cruise. It is a few miles shorter, but even without that, the drive is much better. The roads are in much better condition and the drivers seem to be moving along with more of a purpose, thus facilitating a smoother commute overall. I like it. We can get to work within 30 minutes and home even faster. You gotta love that. Not to mention, there are at least a dozen good breakfast joints along the way. On the old route, there wasn't anyplace you'd want to stop without a police escort, even if you somehow found it possible trust the city cops.

My biggest worry in moving was for my cats. Most will advise you to keep the cats indoors for at least a month before allowing them out of the new home. I have heard good stories and bad ones in that regard. Cats are quite unpredictable it seems, and I was worried that one or both of them would wander off and not find their way back. I am not interested in that kind heart-break ever again. Silo disappeared for fours days last summer and I was a wreck over it. I decided that I would not be letting them out at all for quite a while. This was, however, until both Silo and Princess spent the better part of the last week pestering me to open the door for them. The chosen time for purring, pawing, and cater walling always took place between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. I was simply not allowed to sleep a whole night. (They never bother Janice!)

I was worried more about Silo than I was Princess. Her range in the old neighborhood was limited by her inherent and exaggerated dislike of other cats, of which there were many to contend with on our street. She stayed close to home even if out for long periods. Silo, on the other hand, loved to roam and I would see him coming back from one of his arduous excursions from a full city block away, meandering carelessly from lawn to lawn and doorstep to trashcan like some drunken vagrant seeking a discarded cigar butt. I was fearful that Silo would wander off, even maybe looking around for his old stomping grounds and becoming disoriented. I am also worried about them encountering neighborhood dogs.

So, in order to finally get a good night's rest, I decided to take the chance and let them escape into the wilds of our new neighborhood. Well, to put it bluntly, my cats have swapped personalities. Silo is keeping very close to home and comes back in almost as soon as the door is reopened. Princess is now wandering much more because, unlike our former abode, there are few if any other cats running the streets. She loves it! Both have been out and both have come back a few times now. I can sleep! I am sure once the cold weather lets up they will spend more time exploring the local terrain.

So my original plan to keep them in has failed and, turns out, was probably obsolete to begin with. Now, the cats come and go pretty much as they please. In the spring, I will install a kitty-door. In the meantime, I remain a lowly doorman catering to the needs and wants of my feline masters. I am just happy not to be worrying so much.

Some things change and somethings don't.

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