Where the Wild Things Were

Having given up work with the intention of freeing ourselves from the Tyranny of the Deadline, we seem to do a remarkably good job of creating them for ourselves. The latest one is my next planned trip to Ingurland, this coming Thursday, by which time we need to have ticked off all the things on Simon’s ‘List of Things To Do Before Val goes Away’.

Given that there were four whole weeks between my return from my last trip and the start of the next one, some might find it surprising that The List only emerged into the light of Simon’s pressured consciousness a couple of days ago. Others (who know us better) might find it entirely predictable. As Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby says in her book “Procrastinator’s Success Kit” (which I haven’t read yet, but I will – one day),

A perfect method for adding drama to life is to wait until the deadline looms large

The main areas of focus for our drama this week are the Kittens-that-are-becoming-Cats, and the Rough-Land-that-is-becoming-The-New-Field.

Given our recent experience of failure in the dark art of cat gender-identification, we determined to discover the gender of the four barn kitten-cats in a timely fashion, so as to avoid the extra expense that a post-pregnancy cat sterilisation incurs. We very quickly discovered that two of the four were indeed Proper Toms. In fact, it became so blindingly obvious, so quickly, that we wondered how we could ever have mistaken poor Little Tommy Cat for anything other than the sweet little (and now expensively neutered) girl that she is. Little Black (henceforth to be known as ‘Eric’, in memory of the first and most-splendid black tom cat that I ever ‘owned’, thirty-five years ago), and Little Tabby (henceforth to be known as Tabby, because we are woefully short of original naming ideas) are just such typical boys – well-built, confident, and cocky in every sense of the word. And although we have as yet failed to get a really close look at the arse-end of either of the other two, who are smaller and still very timid, we are sure they are both female. The fact that one of them is already fairly heavily pregnant is a bit of a clue.

Suddenly struck by the fact that we needed to take urgent action to prevent another outbreak of kitten infestation in our world, and mindful of the fact that these two tiny breeding machines are still largely wild and unapproachable, Simon decided that it would need our combined efforts to catch them to take them to the vet. Then, having failed to take note of the warning that “dates in calendar are closer than they appear” Simon was horrified to realise that, what with the weekend, and bank holidays, and the fact that we would need to take the kittens to the vet the evening before the day of the operation, there was only ONE POSSIBLE DAY LEFT, on which they could be neutered, before I left the country, and him alone with all the cat-related responsibilities.

Waiting until the deadline looms large is also a perfect method for adding unnecessary expense to life. “If we had another cat box, we could take them both to the vet at the same time.” I suggested. I have had lots of experience of getting out of the holes created by my endless procrastination. “So, if the vet can do them both at the same time, and if she can do them on Wednesday, and if Carrefour have a cat-carrying box, and if we can manage to catch them both on Tuesday afternoon, everything will be fine.” Even though he had his back to me, I could tell by the tilt of his shoulders that Simon thought this was quite a lot of Ifs.

It was clearly time to stop pondering and start acting. We hot-footed it to the vet’s, to begin with the first two Ifs. Things were looking up – yes, they could give us an appointment for Wednesday, and yes, they could do them both on the same day. So, off we toddled to Carrefour, which did indeed have a cat-carrying box for sale, and at only four times the cost of the one we bought in England. Bargain. And on the drive home, I contemplated the final Very Big If in the sequence and considered what I might do to increase the chances of that one swinging in our favour too.

So, here we are on the Day of the Catching. The two cat boxes have been in the barn over the weekend, minus their doors, but plus an enticing bowl of food in each one, and ALL the cats have been inside them for a look around. And, somewhat amazingly, the pregnant female has actually slept in one, (hopefully not nesting, and preparing to give birth before we even get to take her to the vet). Now all that remains to be done is for the two doors to be refitted, for the two correct cats to be inside the boxes at the right time this afternoon, and for them to stay in them whilst we secure the doors.

Am I feeling lucky? Um…not really. Am I optimistic? Rarely. Am I hopeful? Always. I’ll let y’all know how this plan turns out. And it’d damned well better turn out fine and dandy, because apparently it was my responsibility to be taming these wild mini-beasts over the last few months, so that they would be easily handleable and vet-able, and it is my shirking that has resulted in us, yet again, suffering the consequences of another case of last-minutitis.

Meanwhile, back in the World of Fences, things are progressing reasonably well, and it is vaguely possible that the task might be complete before I leave the country. Simon assures me that he is planning to write a post about this latest of his Big Achievements, so I won’t go into details here. Suffice to say that, whilst my head can appreciate the pleasures of a Job Well Done, my heart is still uncomfortable with the basic premise. Like Kirk Douglas’s western characters, I’ve never been a fan of boundaries.

Ironically, Simon’s attempt to make the fence line as unobtrusive as possible, by establishing it very close to the existing hedge-and-tree-line, has necessitated a fair bit of chopping and hacking to make enough room for the fixing of the wire to the posts. And in my shear-driven destruction of nature creation of workable, vegetation-free space, I exposed a tiny bird’s nest containing four tiny eggs. The terrified (and as yet unidentified) mother bird is returning to the nest whenever we leave the area, and I have tried to reinstate some of the cover for the nest with a selection from the chopped branches, but I fear that our construction shenanigans may ultimately lead to her deserting the nest entirely.

So, come Thursday, I will be able to set out on my Derby-bound journey, safe in the disquieting knowledge that I am both a baby-cat killer, and a baby-bird killer. Which, I have to say, wasn’t quite what I had in mind, when I said wanted to live closer to nature.

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