Sunday, January 04, 2009

Kitty Gym - Phase One

We have seven cats and one three legged dog. Only two of the cats are designated "outside cats" as their status as such was grandfathered after Bobbi passed the "no more cats outside" edict of 2003 or was it 2004? Up until then all of our furry friends were allowed to wander aimlessly outside. But some local bad ass predator, a coyote, a fisher, a fox, or very mean turkey decided that our cats were delectable treats easy to pick up when passing by our spread. So for several years anyway, we have lived with at least seven of the little flea magnets inside 24/7.

Cats do not care where they are when it comes time to do cat stuff. If they have no tree to climb, they will jump up on the refrigerator. If they have no wonderful dead tree to sharpen their claws on, the finish boards on the stairs and balusters work just as well. Inside or out, they do the same stuff.

We have bought them various cat play stations. They seem to like them well enough, but an empty cardboard box or vacant paper bag works better. Mantles, dressers, closet shelves or the fan hood over the stove are all better than anything bought from Pets R Us. And scattering whatever is on these peices of furniture is more fun than batting around that store bought wiffle ball with the bell in it.

Bobbi had been hot to purchase some of those high shelves made specifically for cats to wander around above head level. Set up like some kind of 6 inch plank highway, the cats could take the high road as well as the low road. We looked into the price of these and well, let's just say $40 bucks for 3 foot piece of pine set up on brackets seemed a tad steep. And since I have more than a lifetime supply of old and ancient wood slowly decaying in various piles around the yard, I decided to build them a gym set.

Most of the wood used in this first phase is over 150 years old. I tore it out of the space my bike shop went into when we renovated the space from old blacksmith and carriage barn to bike shop. The two main supports are pit sawn hemlock and the shelves are pine milled the same way. I love reusing stuff. Especially old stuff like these boards. Some of the wood came from hard wood shelves I scored back 30 years ago in Baltimore as a mover moving a library from their old building to their new building. Not a store bought chunk of wood in the whole thing with the exception of the glue and the screws.

One of the things one has to do when working with tired twisted old lumber is not be concerned with perfection. If you will notice the top shelf has a bow in it on the left side. The cats won't mind, and I am proud of the fact that I got it as straight as I did. That board was some twisted before I started. Using found materials for cat enjoyment is also a plus when you know they are going to shred it to pieces.

So I am on the fourth day of a month long series of daily posts. It's odd that when I feel no compunction to create, I am full of ideas. But add in the slightest bit of pressure, or commitment, and the well seems to dry up. Through a series of dedicated resolutions, I had visions of resolving all that needed resolving in my life. By the end of January, I would have "the plan" in hand and 2009 would play out like some movie script. Add some mind numbing cough due to some bug and a smidgen of infection in the ears and all of a sudden, nothing but chaos and disconnected ideas briefly surface. Any plan at this point lays in ruins along side the mountain of Kleenex in the trash can. So all I can come up with are the broad areas of concern. Specifics will have to come later as I begin to feel better.

When one lives their life proudly on the premise of "going with the flow", it can be a daunting task to successfully come up with a schedule that still goes with that flow, but keeps the train on the tracks at the same time. Taking it as it comes casts aside any idea of projecting what might be in the way. Each bridge is crossed when approached. Planning ahead is but a joke with the same old punch line, "Well, I never saw that one coming". Of course picking up good habits after years of breaking in bad ones is not something I should expect to happen over night. And I don't. But the tendency to allow frustration, then surrender to take over my best intentions always looms large when even contemplating self improvement.

"Oh well, whatja gonna do" and then shrugging my shoulders is on the banned list this year. No matter what else I do, I will alter some courses, some well established patterns of behaviour. If nothing else, a year dedicated to the struggle surely seems more noble than making the promise and then at the first sign of failure, dropping back into my old ways because they are comfortable and I don't have to think about them.

So today's main resolution is to improve communication. On the surface and based on my level of interaction at this point, it would seem one of the faults that would see the biggest improvement with the least amount of effort. But knowing myself as I do, this one may end up being my biggest success or most profound failure. Communicating indicates a willingness to let people in. This one could be tough. But one that absolutely needs some work.

An afterword here - I seem to be nursing a negative trend with every post. Every improvement I set my eyes on, I toss in the negative post script of "this may be the toughest thing I do." Well shit. I guess just the idea of changing anything scares the piss out of me. And loading up on negative vibes somehow gives me comfort or will when I inevitably fail. Of course, recognizing this will hopefully reinforce my backbone when I conjure up difficulty out of nothing just to help me avoid stepping outside of my comfortable box.


BBC said...

That's a lot of cats...

I trained my two cats, they know that they are only allowed on the floor, my bed and their bed on top of my wardrobe closet.

And they trained me to be a damn doorman.

Utah Savage said...

Hi, I'm in a bit of a slump myself. I'm being trolled by am anonymous commenter. So have now disabled anonymous comments. I put this off for a year, because I though there might be a good reason to hear from people who aren't in the blogging community. But lately the anonymous have become a real nasty problem.

Love what your doing for your cats. My old, now dead cat, used to have many hight places where she liked to perch and watch the scene from on high.

Thanks for your latest comments on Maggy. I have a lot of work to do on all my blogs. Stories started and left hanging, unfinished, and am slowly working on a bit of a facelift for the site. So I am under-construction. Add to that the fact that I'm sick with some kind of bug, and it's slow going.

But I just wanted to know that I always appreciate any visit from you. You have become one of my faves.

Demeur said...

Well there you go. I see a nice side business in your future - cat ladders. If some fool is willing to pay $40 for a 3 foot piece of wood. I'm sure you could get a few hundred bucks for what you have there. I can see it now. Rustic handmade cat walk for sale. Hand crafted in the U.S.A.

Randal Graves said...

Our cats pretty much go wherever they want, which, thankfully, isn't into too many odd/dangerous places, but the originals aren't too fond of the strays, so we have to keep them separate.

As for the posting difficulty, I've been thinking about creating some Mad Libs for the occasion. Toss up a template, fill the sucker in, et voilĂ , NaBloPoMojo is done.

And don't forget to have Billy Mays hawk your Cat Ladder®.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I'm with Demeur here: you could probably start a business making cat ladders and cat runways-over-windows. That one in the photo is awesome, Crum.