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November 23, 2010

Claws and Velvet Shoes

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How are we all doing?  When it gets like this, I can’t decide if I feel like watching Dr. Zhivago or Body Heat. In any case, I’ve had a quiet 20 hours without phone, TV or internet connection.  Since I got rid of TV cable a month ago–by choice—I rather expected to still be without it when this weather hit.  Since the internet has been restored to our neighborhood, I have learned I needn’t have worried that my inbox would fill to an unmanageable degree.

But being without phone service spooked me just a bit.  I am the last person on earth to not have a cell phone, but there it is: I don’t have a cell phone.  Last night, I put on my bibs and tucker and went across the street to my neighbors (not Gwen who knows something about just about everything, but David and Grace, the rat mafia people; see blog: Rodent Incident Report I) to borrow their cell phone and to whine about the cable being down.   A fierce wind whipped razor sharp bits of snow in my face.  This in itself was material to whine about.

If you don’t live, and have never lived, in Seattle, you probably have no idea what I am going on about.  You see, it snowed a few inches yesterday and they haven’t yet dug out Seattle’s three snow plows, rusting in the back of some city storage barn.  I don’t think they have even found the barn yet.

We are nuts here when it comes to snow.  At the sign of the first few flakes, people are already leaving work early and schools are canceled for the week.  In our defense, I will say that we have a lot of hills, hills; and driving on hills is not the same as driving on level streets.  Plus we none of us have gotten over the year of the snow when school children were still being delivered home by city buses at midnight of the day that no one took the weather report seriously.  And that was at least a decade ago.

The cats are getting on my last nerve.  They need to go outside because they don’t like their litter boxes any more than I do.  But they don’t want to walk in snow to get to the organic vegetable garden which is their grand litter box of choice.  It is completely outrageous that there would be snow outside the back door as well as the front.  Maybe they were mistaken: they need me to open the front door again.

It’s bad enough that they pester me during my waking hours.  But since they slept every second they weren’t bothering me yesterday, they were wide awake and prowling last night when I wanted to sleep.  When I finally fell asleep, I woke up because the bed felt oddly cold.  At three o’clock in the morning, I found a cat claw size hole in my hot water bottle, (Yes, yes, very funny: she doesn’t have a cell phone but she does have a HWB) and a big damp patch on the sliver of egg carton foam that the cats allow me to align myself on at night.

By the time I heated up a rice bag in the microwave and smoothed a towel over the damp spot, I was both thoroughly awake and cold.  Then the cats disappeared –probably because I was so vocal about the hot water bottle—and took their 110 degree bodies to the antipodes of the house so it took hours—or so it seemed –to warm up and get drowsy again.  When I got up I was greeted by their insistent protest against the starvation diet I impose on them.

As soon as I could manage it, I bundled up and went for a walk in the cemetery behind my house where no one ever complains.  Mine were the first footsteps, everyone was happy to see me, and no one wanted anything more than my presence.  When I walk in the snow, I like to sing a song by Randall Thompson set to a text by Elinor Wylie, one of the first songs I learned to sing when I started voice lessons as a teenager:

Let us walk in the white snow

In a soundless space

With footsteps quiet and slow

At a tranquil pace

Under veils of white lace.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:

Wherever we go

Silence will fall like dews

On white silence below.

We shall walk in the snow.

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