Monday, February 12, 2007


I didn't freeze to death on Tuesday while walking to the gym. For the record, the low Monday night and Tuesday morning was not 1F, as predicted. It 7. I still walked to the gym, but I wore my down jacket instead of the usual fleece jacket with a sweatshirt underneath. It wasn't too bad, but the walk home was a little more unpleasant since the wind picked up. After the unseasonably warm weather we've had this winter, I'm relishing the cold.

My parents ' anniversary dinner went off very well. The dining room at Smithfield Inn was quite nice. The service was very attentive and I thought the food was good, although not quite as good as it should have been for the price. My parents seemed to enjoy themselves and all the kids were on their best behavior and fairly quiet. When the family gathers at my parents' house, it's typically pretty loud, which was another reason why I thought a private room was a good idea. I didn't want to disturb the other diners with loud conversation and potentially crying infants. My brother's girls wore their best party dresses and acted quite grown up. All in all, there were 18 of us. Daniel wasn't able to make it back from college, as he's got a pretty heavy schedule this semester (organic chemistry and lab, physics and lab, genetics, microbiology and lab). A good time was had by all.

For several weeks now, we've been hearing suspicious scratching sounds inside our dining room wall. It could be one of two things: either a bird flew down the unused chimney or a mouse (or several of them) has taken up residence in our walls. Since Emma was very interested in the goings-on behind the walls, we suspected a mouse. The mouse theory proved to be correct (I think the bird theory is also true, but short of breaking into the chimney, we'll never know).

When Tom got home from work the other day, he discovered Emma following around a very tired mouse. It had left its cozy home in the walls by way of the pocket doors and immediately became a cat toy. Emma didn't kill it, but did a good job of wearing it out. Tom scooped it and put it outside. I don't think that's going to be the last of the mice, though. As I was backing out of the driveway yesterday, I saw at least two mice scurry towards the house. I just hope Emma doesn't catch one in the middle of the night and bring it to us in bed. That would be quite the rude awakening!

Recently we've been noticing that Emma's fur has not been feeling quite as clean and soft as it normally does. She's also been disappearing for long periods of time and has been impossible to find. She enjoys going into the basement; it's her refuge when there are guests in the house.

Our basement is not the cleanest place in the house. It's an old-fashioned, unfinished basement, with pipes and wires running through the joists. Since there isn't a ceiling, dust filters down from the first floor through the floor boards. And there are cobwebs...lots and lots of cobwebs. In the early days of the house, the house was heated by a coal furnace, then by an oil furnace before we made the switch to natural gas several years ago.

Well, it turned out that Emma discovered a way to get up on the pipes and into the joists. Our pretty, soft, stripy kitty has turned into the Pigpen of cats. She emerged from some hiding place Friday morning, looking pretty pleased with herself, with huge cobwebs hanging from her tail and whiskers. After I touched her, my hands came away tinged with black. I wiped her down with a wet paper towel and it came away black. A second wipe down produced the same results. There was only one thing left to do.

Give her a bath.

Cats don't like to get wet. A bath involves getting the cat wet, immersing it, if you will. Cats have claws, often very sharp, pointy claws. They can inflict a lot of damage. Emma's claws are of the very sharp, pointy variety, making a pedicure a prerequisite to the bath. Hoo boy. It was going to be a fun day.

I haven't quite mastered the art of claw-clipping by myself. And whenever I'm ready to clip claws, Tom isn't. So I've developed the stealth method, clipping only a couple of claws while Emma is sleeping. It takes a while, but it's effective.

Emma's first bath took place in the clawfoot tub, since the high sides would make it a little more difficult for her to escape. I strategically positioned the baby shampoo and towel. I grabbed the poor little kitty, took her into the bathroom, shut the door and plopped her in the tub. Emma didn't like it, but she didn't fight it. Mostly she stood there looking like a drowned rat, shivering. When I rinsed her, the water ran black. I think she must have found a mother lode of ancient coal dust.

I'd like to say we now have a clean kitty, but darned if she didn't go up into joists yesterday. Fortunately, she's not quite as dirty, but she leaves black smears wherever she lays. I think another bath is in the future for her.

Gymnastics Competition
My sister-in-law and her daughter were in Leesburg this weekend for a regional gymnastics competition and stayed with us. The gymnastics team from Poquoson High School is small, only three girls, although there were a couple of schools that had even smaller teams. There are four events: floor, vault, beam, and uneven parallel bars. Holly competed in the floor event, while her teammate Caitlin participated in all four. As it happened, Holly didn't place, but Caitlin placed 8th in vault, 3rd in floor, 1st in both beam and bars, and 1st in the all-around, barely beating out a girl from Goochland. Caitlin qualified for the State competition next weekend.

It was interesting to watch these young women compete. Not all of them were good and some were clearly struggling with their chosen apparatus (I had a major flashback to junior high and high school gym classes). But they still competed and seemed to be supportive of their competitors. Even the parents cheered on their daughters' competitors. I never had the opportunity to learn gymnastics or ballet as a child but like to think I would have been good at it. Of course, that would have meant having to practice and be focused, and about the only thing I was good at focusing on was reading.

Knitting Progress
Two words: not much.

The Divine scarf continues to be my travel project. One ball is almost gone, which means I'm about a quarter or a third complete, depending on how long I want to make it. If there's leftover yarn, I think I'll make some wrist warmers or fingerless mitts. They'll be simply divine in Divine!

The Jenna sweater back is about nine inches, leaving three inches to knit. We aren't even going to mention the Christine sweater, although I'm rethinking the wisdom of knitting the sleeves first. There don't appear to be any increases in the body, so I might rip the sleeve one more time and start on the body. Anything, anything to make some progress!

That's about it. They are calling for a significant weather event starting tomorrow, although now it looks like we might be getting freezing rain instead of snow. I'm mightily unhappy about that. I'm hoping beyond hope they'll be wrong and we'll get a couple of feet of snow. What could be better than having a snow day and sitting in front of the fire, knitting and spinning and drinking hot chocolate?

Happy knitting!


Mia said...

Isn't always amazing how small cats look when they are wet? Is there a way to seal off the joists so she can't get up in there? Mimi is declawed in the front but she has very sharp teeth. And I have discovered that cats don't mind getting wet so long as it is their idea and they don't get their entire body wet. You might want to lay down some towels on Emma's favorite places to sleep. It helps.

Anne said...

That's my Emma too - Messy Marvin of the basement lair. We have a newish house (12 years old) so no coal dust, but she apparently has a secret lair somewhere I haven't found where she has taken things (like my orifice hook and some piece of bubble wrap) and it is extremely dusty and cob-webby in there. Blech!

Sheepish Annie said...

My Desdemona loves the tub and will often stand in there while the water level rises, happy as a clam. But she will not tolerate a bath...go figure!

We're scheduled to get hit with the weather event on Wednesday. Tonight it's gonna be -25 degrees so we can all get ready for it! Yikes!!!