March 13, 2014

Daylight Savings Time Blues

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It’s been a discombobulating week, and not helped by the time change.  I particularly loathe Spring Forward. It throws me worse than Fall Back in terms of messing with my sleep.  In addition I am a morning person who counts the growing minutes of spring morning light like Scrooge counts his money.  I yearn for the Equinox like a sunflower for the sun.

I was beside myself a few years back when Congress (Congress! Spit.) changed the date of Daylight Savings from early April to the middle of March.  I was in the habit of watching the stately procession of the morning light as I had my morning tea and read my book.  Then suddenly I was plunged back into three weeks of darkness.  It was like suddenly being dropped into the dark ages, a time before electricity.  I was truly outraged.  Up at 5:30, I stood at the window wringing my hands.  The sun, the sun, where was the sun? Oh my life, my life!

Then there’s the difficulty–with both time changes– of getting a hold of the cats’ watches, changing the time, and getting them back on their ankles without them knowing.  This almost never works. 

Sunday I came home from a friend’s house at 5:00.  I am in the habit of giving the cats a little meal at 5:00, (Putzer, the Attorney says I feed them every hour and thinks she has the evidence to prove it) but I thought since their body clocks as well as their little cat watches were still at 4:00 I would have a peaceful hour before they started making demands on me and scratching my good couch.  But they whined on cue as I came in the door, all three of them, standing in the kitchen looking pointedly at their dishes and then reproachfully at me.

I walked with dignity through their midst out to the sunroom, collected my hori hori, and went outside to do some weeding. My neighbor Bill came across the street with a caulking gun. I had just finished up two weeks cat care for his little Suleiman the Magnificent and in exchange he made my bathtub and shower look brand new.   On the rare occasions when I’m out of town, Bill has afternoon duty with my cats –that would be the 5:00 feeding. So the cats know Bill as someone who occasionally feeds them in the afternoon. When he entered the house on Sunday I heard such a wail of pitiful voices that I checked to see if they were mauling him.  When he disappeared into the bathroom, the whining stopped and they all settled down to wait him (or me) out. 

That was Sunday.  Monday was the culmination of L’Affair Litter Box. I don’t know if it was connected with the time change.  It could have been Time Coincident but Not Causal.  In any case, Winston seems to have a preference for a litter box out in the old cabin that’s connected to my house by the sunroom roof.  He’s a cranky old man by now, and set in his ways.  He likes his cigarette on the front porch at about 9:00 in the evening and then he wants back in.  He likes to take a crap in peace, I guess, where he can take his time and not tense up when he hears the activity of the other two cats, me, and the stream of people that come in and out of my house every day. So he stinks it up pretty good back there but lately he has also taken to peeing outside the box—sort of the equivalent of missing the toilet.

The last time I cleaned up Winston’s outhouse, I made the ill-advised decision to pour the litter into a taller cat box, erroneously thinking that if the sides of the box were tall, he would be unable to jet his pee over the top.  Even though I have lived with several geriatric cats in my life I realize now that I’ve missed cues that Winston is developing arthritis. He has difficulty getting into a taller box.  That was probably why he started using the box in the cabin in the first place. It was easier to get into.

But seeing it from Winston’s point of view I imagine he firstly was aggrieved that he, the alpha-cat of the house, had to use the cold litter box in the unheated cabin rather than the ones in the house that have heated seats, so to speak.  Then I go and put in this outrageously tall box, making his already inconvenient situation untenable.

So there I was, the second morning of Daylight Savings Time, feeling grumpy that it felt like January again, but managing to settle in with my tea and my book to enjoy the dead of night at six in the morning. I left the bedroom door slightly ajar for the cats (everything for the cats) but not so wide that all the heat escapes.  I had just turned a page when Winston shoved into the room swinging the door wide open, and stalked over to the bookcase where he quite pointedly peed on my books. 

I leaped out of the chair and went dashing for a rag, a bucket, and the cat pee neutralizer stuff that smells like cat pee.  “Oh no, Winston, what have you done, oh Winston, how could you, my books, my books, not my books, oh, my life, my life.” I sounded like something out of Mildred Pierce.  Three copies of my memoir (99 Girdles on the Wall) and two knitting books seemed to have gotten the worst of it.  They, too, have been neutralized.

It took me until the middle of the afternoon to realize that this episode was most likely about my tampering with the litter box and I immediately restored the old shallow one. There are temporary plastic sheets covering all the bookcases in the house and Winston is under surveillance.

It’s Day Five of Daylight Savings Time. In another twenty days we’ll be where we would have been if Congress hadn’t decided to play Pope Gregory.


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