"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lessons from out the "cat box," and a rap

Sophie and Snoops
Cats teach you a lot of things "unfeline," and as we've adopted two in the past couple of months, I'm discovering new metaphors for life, thanks to Snoops and Sophie. They're really my first cats, others having belonged to my children when they were growing up or Susan. The kids' cats seemed to meet untimely deaths, and Susan's died over the past two years, and while I was sort of tangential, they were never mine. I have been a dog person up until just a few years ago.
This new intimacy of having cats rather than dogs has introduced me to their habits, and while they're fun and cute and interesting and adoptive in their own ways, some of the main lessons have come from
... cleaning out the "cat box."
So far, these are indoor cats, not that I'm opposed to bi-habitual cats--in fact, I prefer that, as I do with dogs, but I've been outvoted. (If you're married, you understand)
Which makes the "cat box" a matter of daily worship, of bowing down to it with the appropriate genuflections of holding your nose, or your squeamishness.
These young cats are very active, bowel-wise, which surprises me because I'm very familiar with being more bowel-active as I age.
The cat box
Which means the "cat box" has to be emptied twice a day. Susan and I are supposed to split it, and we usually do. Hold your temptation to write a headline. I can outdo you since there are so many key words you can play off of, starting with poop, litter, sift, shit, couples, dump...the list goes on.
But that is not the purpose of this erudite exercise in evacuation. 
We use a box with a cover, in  the laundry room, which adds new meaning to the need for fabric softener, and the aroma of clean clothes. Susan insists in kitty litter that is fragrance free...yeah right.

We use a small sized spade-shovel with slots in it to drag through the kitty litter and scoop up the clotted colon processed remains, while the rest of the "kitty litter" sifts back into the "cat box." The awful offal--I love that play on words--goes into a plastic sack for disposal. It is literally, full of ... .
My thoughts while bowing over the "cat box," sifting through the poop....
I think first of all of my work and experiences that has qualified me to clean out the "cat box."

  •  I continually sift through statements from politicians, national, state and local, separating their poop from where it is amply deposited, noting that it's always presented positively, but still smells;
  • I am continually showered by TV weather people with their bloated language, seeking to find just the pertinent news:
  • I'm continually dumped on by TV cable channels with their self promotion and egos and protestations of being "fair and balanced." Poop is not fair and balanced, and it comes in all sizes, regardless of source, though some are more excremental than others;
  • I'm continually sniffing at TV and Internet advertising with their intrusive special effects odor --having sold advertising, I know how to shovel such stuff.
  • I'm continually barraged with PR poop in higher education, with its slogans and acronyms and flavors of the month, knowing that the messages are runny, without much substance;
  • I was continually soaked as department chair for years with edicts from on high for forms, new reports, some administrator's latest brainchild project, more cookie-cutter paperwork. None of it ever sifted through to help students and better teaching.
  • I 'm also continually having to sift through Politically Correct language from my government, interest groups, and more. Don't believe me? Why do we call it "kitty litter"?
Susan calls cleaning out the "cat box" as "farm chores." But at least when you're doing that, you know what you're doing, and it'll prevent a mess in the near future.
So do the cats. Go to the "cat box," and they sit nearby, waiting for you to finish so they can enjoy the freshness.
The cats and Susan are calling. My only rule is that I don't do it just before eating. I'm headed back to the "cat box."


Cat box blues rap
I don't know about youse
I got the cat box blues
Plenty of poop
to fit in the scoop
Sounds like life
I ain't being trite
I ain't bitter
I hate kitty litter
Sophie and Snoops
Lots of poops
It's just the pits
with lots of shits
I know what I knows
Hold your nose.

(Note--if you have other lessons from the cat box, comment below, I'll be glad to add them)

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