Monday, December 13, 2010

New England!, What’s wrong with the old one?

pierce02Spent an enjoyable albeit chilly three days in the Boston metropolitan area last week. Sara visited a couple elementary schools and we both dropped in on the students and teachers at Pierce Middle in Milton Massachusetts.

This gave us the opportunity to stay with our friends Christine and Larry – Chris teaches at Pierce and Larry is her husband – so along with these two and their bookended Husky dogs – Montana and Tundra – we enjoyed the bluster that is a New England December.  We visited these two back  Halloween ‘09 when the weather was decidedly more conducive to a stroll around the commons.

I know people like to talk about winter being the dead time of year – but I think really it’s when you feel the most alive.  I mean how quick do you make it back to your car across a  windswept and snowy parking lot ? Teeth chattering shuddering from the cold is indistinguishable from vibrating with anticipation.

Now I admit, I’ve never been one for winter sports – skiing, snowmobiles all that stuff – I have been known to drag a kid up a sledding hill on occasion though but I don’t think holding up for six months under an electric blanket is the best way to pass time.

Anyway – our visit to the Milton School District was a stellar one. We worked with the kids during the day and then with a couple dozen teachers afterwards. Throughout I was fighting a cold and it probably didn’t help that prior to by busiest day (which required getting up at 5 o’this-sucks in the morning) I had a relatively late night at the Boston Poetry Slam – held since 1991 at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge.

I let the hostess of the evening Simone, know I was thinking about swinging by the set – I hadn’t been to the Cantab since 1992 – and asked her what the open mic protocol was. I figured I’d get there and do a poem watch the feature and then cut out before the slam – it was a school night after all.

Well – it wasn’t Boston alone experiencing wintertime blasts – the featured reader Ken Arkind was supposed to be coming in from Denver – but his flight had been delayed and it didn’t look like he was going to make it. So I pinch hit for him – doing a short feature set. Like Woody Allen said: 90% of success is showing up on time. Thanks Ken and Simone.

So it was a good thing I decided to pop some Advil Cold and Sinus caps and brave the elements to take the train into town – I could have stayed home toasty warm like a dog curled up by the heat hole but see, hitting the streets and meeting the wind in your face will pay off every now and then. Plus, I really enjoyed the open mic at the Cantab’s Slam, as well – one of the better I’ve been to in quite awhile.

So – in closing for no other reason than a photo op I leave ya with a pic of the Paps taken 10 minutes ago - wading the snow in our driveway. Anybody know where I can buy a teeny tiny dogsled? Montana and Tundra would be proud.


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Abominable Snow Cat


Winter has officially come to our household. Spike the deaf white kitty has moved back indoors.

What difference a week and 1,038.72 miles makes. There I was happily tossing chocolate covered graham crackers to an alligator and this morning I am wondering whether I should have started the snow blower up last weekend just to be sure it would grumble to life this year.

Lili our seven month Pap pup didn’t quite know what to think about the white stuff sprinkled across the lawn – but acclimated to it fairly quickly – barking at the kids walking past our house to the bus stop took priority over the snow underfoot.


Now Spike has seen this pattern for almost a decade and he knows that when the snow flies it is time to hunker down next to the window and wait for Spring. In fact December is his birthday month – and if he recalls he was born outside in our garage to a neighborhood stray along with his sister Buffy (who is decidedly an indoor housecat) and his brother Oreo who moved in with my sister and subsequently disappeared. The trio’s mom had moved into our garage which was left open by construction workers who were putting an addition on our house unbeknownst to us.

Buffy was the first to be discovered. She was a tiny little ball of fuzz crying, crying, crying,  out in our dark cold backyard. Her little eyes were swollen shut from infection and her whole body was shivering. I scooped her up and took her to my sister’s, the veterinarian,  house where she got pumped full of antibiotics and food.


A week or so later my son Max and his friend Andy heard some mewing from the garage. Andy, who has since become a chef, had attempted to pick up Spike, the source of this meowing. Spike hissed at the cat loving cook who then backed off in fear of the little six ounce ball of terror.

The two ran into the house and told me about the second cat just found in the garage and of its ferocious disposition making it impossible to retrieve. Of course I questioned their manhood and went out there to show them how to deal with a feral kitten.

I found baby Spike and scooped him up, chiding Andy for being such a wimpy kid that he was afraid of this teeny tiny little feline. This is when Spike sunk his teeny tiny little fangs into the ball of my hand. He didn’t just bite and let go – he dug in, shaking his head like a pit-bull putting the finishing touches on a punctured football. Blood was streaming down my arm like a prom queen in a Steven King novel while I continued to tell Andy and Max what poor examples they were of their gender. So, Spike was taken to my sister’s as well and the next day Oreo was found and all three kittens received shots, spaying and neutering.

Now Buffy lives in the house where she has grown big and fat and Spike is the neighborhood tomcat – killing moles and baby birds while spending his time more with the elderly couple next door than with his real family here. Spike acts as if he doesn’t know us most of the time – but will rub up against the leg of the old man while he works on cars in his garage and can often bee seen sporting long grease streaks on his head or tail. I don’t know if it’s just an affinity for garage living brought on by birthright or if he remembers me as tasting bad but it seems all we are good for to him is soft food in the morning, first aid when he has been in a fight and  a warm place to sleep in the winter.

So like some hobo hopping a train to Florida in November – Uncle Spike has moved back into the house. Yep, Winter is here.