I feel like my life is unduly influenced by two intractable circumstances: my commute and too many cats. Most nights I’m up 2-3 times because a cat wants out of my room, or because a fight is brewing in the hallway, or because someone is meowing for reasons unknown to all but the feline gods. They’re sweet and cute and loving, but they can’t seem to tolerate each other, and I wonder how long we can go on like this.

I wake up exhausted, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, to face a day with 45-60 minutes of commuting on either side of a typical work day. I know this isn’t unreasonable for a city dweller, and that the commute is longer because of my move, but it is a constant source of frustration, though I’m doing my best to ameliorate it now that it’s consistently warm and pleasant enough to bike all or a portion of the 13 miles from home to work. Today I biked for 20 minutes, then took a train for 7 miles and 15 minutes, then biked the last half mile, arriving at work hungry and not inordinately disheveled, and in about the same amount of time that it would’ve taken me to get in my car, sit in traffic, then hunt for parking.

I’m tired all the time, and hungry all the time. My body will get used to this level of activity, but I don’t know if it will get used to the lack of sleep. What to do?

We spent a portion of last weekend in Champaign, walking around campus in the gathering dark, grabbing a drink at a favorite bar downtown, running to the car in the driving rain. Is the heavy nostalgia I feel when I’m there just a remnant of my previous life? Or should it be taken into consideration as we have these conversations about a future together, and where that might take place, and what factors are important to us as we speculate about decisions that are still a long way off? I know that that place is in my blood like no other, not even Chicago, but also that the world has moved on and I with it.

We sat on the lawn at Pritzker Pavilion Monday night with Carl and a bottle of wine and Middle Eastern take-out from a place in Hyde Park. Daniel Lanois opened with The Maker followed by The Messenger, and it was like all of the chattering, oblivious voices faded away and all that was there was me and the clouds and the silver beams overhead and his voice and my two best guys and the goosebumps on my arms and legs bared against the cool evening breeze. Summer in the city.

And don’t get me wrong, dear, in general I’m doing quite fine.

Things We Learned About Cats: Mina Edition

Happy Girl

We took Mina to the vet yesterday for a rabies shot and to have a toenail checked out. I mention this because we learned a couple of things that were interesting.

First, cat nails normally look like this:

Instead of getting all pointy at the end, however, Mina’s nails are much thicker and longer, as if her nails don’t get to the pointy-point part.  This means that when she hooks them on things, the tip of the nail doesn’t flake off – it sticks.  And what do cats do when they’re stuck?  They try to pull themselves free.

The result, as we discovered yesterday, is that Mina has broken two tiny bones, one in each of her front feet.  One happened at least a year ago, while the other seems to have happened in the last couple of days!  This sounds totally awful, but it’s apparently not uncommon and usually heals on its own.  She doesn’t seem to be in any pain except when we try to cut her nails, which makes sense.  They gave her an antibiotic, and we’re doing our best to keep her from scratching on things.

In addition to her big nails, we were also told that based on the size of her head and her big ol paws, she actually is smaller than she could be – which seemed funny to us since she has such sumptuous fluff – but might explain why she’s always foraging for snacks.  Seriously, look at that fluff:

Futon Party!

And Now For Something Completely Different!

Between wedding gifts and the holidays, we’ve recently acquired a few really cool things – cookbooks, housewares, and assorted other gadgets worth telling you about.  This is not our usual blog fare, but after the umpteenth time of telling Shane “wow, I really love _________”, I figured it’d be worth the occasional mention here.  In that spirit, I would like to introduce you to what we call “Spaceship”.

Shane picked this guy up when he was in Philadelphia in November, and it’s safe to say that our cats are obsessed with it. If you go anywhere near Spaceship or the canister of treats, Basil starts dancing around on his tippy-toes, chirping and shaking his tail with excitement. Basically, Spaceship is the best thing since sliced bread – or, for Basil, kibble.

So what’s the big deal?  Basically, Spaceship – or, more properly the FunKitty Twist N Treat – is a treat-dispensing toy.  You screw the two halves apart, add a handful of treats, and then screw the halves back together so that treats fall out when the cats play with it.  Low tech, but effective!

Basil’s strategy for retrieving treats seems to involve a solid smack and drag on the top of Spaceship, which, if he’s lucky, results in a treat popping out in his direction.  Mina – usually the first to figure out any possible way to get more food – doesn’t seem to have figured out how it works.  Instead, she monitors Basil’s play, waiting to skim off any treats that Basil misses.  So I ask you – who is the smarter cat?  The one who figured it out, or the one who figured out how to avoid work?