Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   the Malthusian hellscape
Tuesday, July 6 2010
Today happened as a repeat of yesterday, but this time with results. Yesterday after arriving at the Dutchess County SPCA and finding it close, the thought of having to come back to do it all over again had been exhausting depressing and I'd sworn I wouldn't, that Gretchen should just come back and get the cat herself. She'd mocked me by saying my life is pretty easy, but I'd countered by saying I didn't feel I had the time this week for two trips down to Hyde Park and back. By today, though, my feelings had mellowed and I agreed to go.
It was another sweltering day, and we had to run the car air conditioner at full blast. Around the coil where the hot, humid air is cooled, water needs to be collected and drained away. But the drainage system is stopped-up by debris (leaves and dog hair) in our car, so at some point in these past couple summers there has arrived a day on which the pool of collected water rises to a height where it begins to slosh over onto our feet. That began yesterday, and by today one had to keep one's feet away from their natural resting place on the passenger side. Gretchen was also getting some on the driver's side as well.
Dutchess County SPCA is still every bit as much of the Malthusian hellscape it was the last time we'd been in there (when we adopted Eleanor seven years ago). The first thing that hits you is the stale smell of litter boxes. No matter how many people they employed, there would never be enough to keep all those boxes scooped enough for that place to smell pleasant. There are a couple places where cats are allowed to socialize with each other in larger play areas, but for the most part the cats live out their lives in tiny cages that are stacked one on top of the next. As I said yesterday, it's a no kill shelter, so the only way out is adoption, disease, or old age. And since most cat adopters prefer non-black kittens, a good fraction of the cats available for adoption are black adults and geriatrics. We gravitate toward the hard luck stories, older black cats who have been in a shelter for months and don't seem likely to get adopted. And after our experience with Wilma, we have a new criterion as well: any prospective cat must get along with others. After reading the pithy synopses on the cages ("I'm friendly!" "I want to be your only cat!" and "Old but wise") we settled upon an older somewhat-overweight cat named Bwackie. As his name implied, he was black, though he had a white bib, whiskers, and socks. There were plenty of other appealingly-sad cats there, many of whom reached out between their bars as we passed in hopes of some sort of connection, however brief and interspecial. Before we'd set out I'd made Gretchen agree that we'd be adopting "at most one cat" for precisely this reason.
Gretchen gave a semi-perfunctory "adopter interview" and then the paperwork was filled out, which kept us there long enough to witness or overhear several grim things of the sort that make SPCA worker one of the most thankless jobs in Dutchess County.
The first of these was a phone conversation I half-overheard between an SPCA employee and a woman who wanted to return a kitten she'd adopted recently because it was sick. It turned out that the poor little thing just had an upper respiratory infection of the sort that would clear up in a few days. But she'd had the misfortune to have been adopted by a fair weather animal lover, someone who was calling because she felt an urge to give the SPCA more work to do.
Then there was the squirrely guy with a deep bronze homeless person tan and the sort of face that is difficult to fabricate without reaching for the methamphetamines. He was asking if he could borrow some cages and traps so he could capture a mother cat and her nest of kittens. Yes, he was there because he wanted to give the SPCA more work to do.
Finally, a couple of slightly-bloated white people with angry tea partier countenances came in leading an enormous Rottweiler on a leash. The dog looked like a good boy; a little dopey, but completely unaware of the absence of love he was getting from the humans in his limited canine life. These two angry white people were there to drop the dog off and it was clear they wanted to do so as quickly as possible, taking all the work that they used to do and dropping it into the lap of the SPCA, giving them, you know, more work to do. Gretchen shot the angry-faced couple a look of "Wow, it's really sad you're being this way to a fellow creature," but they clearly suffered from a pathological empathy deficit that nothing like peer pressure or guilt was ever going to fix.
On the drive home we bounced possible names back and forth because we were certainly not going to be sticking with "Bwackie." I suggested Hispanic names because all of our critter names to date have been Anglo-Saxon, but we couldn't really think of any that worked except perhaps Pablo. At some point I suggested Nigel, but Gretchen thought it inappropriate for a black cat. "No, he'll grow into it. You'll see. He's totally a Nigel," I said. And because none of the other names were really clicking, Nigel it was.
Normally we acclimate new cats in the upstairs bathroom, but Marie (aka the Baby) is a creature of habit, and that's where her litter box and food are kept these days. So we barricaded Nigel in the laundry room instead, closing him in behind the plexiglass door we'd attached back when we'd needed a way to feed Mavis (our first elderly cat) wet food unmolested. Nigel immediately retreated into the narrow gap behind the washing machine, but some hours later he came out and even let me pet him. It turns out that he's an exceptionally friendly cat.


For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next