Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cat tales

Had an encounter today with a cat.

Wait, before I tell you about the cat, let me get a guilty thought off my chest. Some of you may be wondering, "where are the posts on the 'spirit of rebellion/spirit of inquiry' you were babbling about?" 

Well, one of them is in my drafts folder, waiting to get refined. Probably happen in the next couple of days, then posted. I write better when riled. Actually, that's not quite accurate. I am more motivated to write when riled. And I'm not riled at the moment. Probably ought to pick up a copy of Christianity Today, or some such, and get good and steamed, then sit down at my computer. Whatever.

Back to the cat. There is [was] a cat hanging around that's a dead ringer for Ivy (Lauri's cat). Beautiful green eyes. Beautiful two-tone grey and white fur. She's a momma cat, or at least about to be a momma cat, very, very soon [news flash: Ivy herself is not about to be a momma cat nor will she ever be, so the similarity ends there].

This cat's been hanging around our yard. We discovered that she has discovered our uncovered window-well, where the dryer vents. It's under our eaves, never gets wet, sometimes gets warm (when the dryer is running).

Our temperatures have been frigid lately, and we've been worried about momma cat. She curls into a tight little ball in that window-well, and shivers and crys, and well, it just gets to you. We can see her from inside the laundry room, through the window in the window-well.

So my wife, my animal-disliking wife, my I-don't-like-cats wife, came to me a few days ago with the old bathroom rug in her hands, and instructs me to put it at the bottom of the window-well for momma cat (I'm gonna name her Holly. Get it? The Holly and the Ivy? Get it? Never mind.) (Oh, by the way, it's the cat I am referring to. My wife is Doris.)

My wife comes and says, 'Put this in the window-well so she won't be so cold.'

I says, 'You feeling okay, babe? Are you all right?'

So I put it at the bottom of the window-well, made it a little more cozy for Holly (it's hard to consider 12 degrees cozy, but at least it's 12 degrees while on a bathroom rug).

Last night it was snowing hard, and Dor and I stood down in the laundry room in the basement watching the cat through the window. Dor says, 'Isn't there anything else we can do for her?'

I says, 'Maybe we can put an old blanket out there for her,' fully expecting that Dor would not want to go to that extent. Once that blanket goes in the window-well, it's never coming back in the house.

She says, 'Okay. How about that old pink and white one?'

Knock me down with a feather. Are my ears deceiving me?

So I clump outside into the snow, arrange that blanket a bit. Holly darted out of the window-well when I approached, but I knew she'd be back soon. We turned the dryer on with no clothes in it, set it for about 45 minutes. Holly came back and was soon snuggled into the blanket.

This morning Dor and I decided the cat had to go to the shelter, lest it and all its soon-to-come kittens die in this weather. We both clumped out in the snow, big cardboard box in hand. The plan was that I would get Holly and Dor would close the box and hold it shut. We had not consulted the cat, and I was betting she would be voting against this plan.

So I was wearing an old coat that I did not mind if it got shred to ribbons. I was wearing two pairs of gloves. If I'd had a football helmet, I'd have been wearing that, too. I was expecting a significant disagreement from the cat. We did not think the box would attack Doris, so she was not wearing any sort of body armor.

Being somewhat of a cat-whisperer myself, I sweet-talked the cat as we approached. Never have figured out why cats, momma cats in particular, talk baby-talk, but there you have it. Anyway, my golden tongue was sufficient to let me get my heavily gloved hands around that cat, but quite insufficient to get her into the box. She immediately panicked, made more moves than I thought possible for a pregnant feline, and went dashing through the snow.

But she did not go over the fence. Could have had something to do with the fact that she was too heavily loaded down for take-off, I don't know. But after a moment, believe it or not, I managed to sweet-talk her right over to our back door. Told you I was a cat-whisperer. Of course, the bowl of food I had put down in the snow might have helped as well. She ate greedily, as though starved. Poor thing.

As she was eating, I'd reach out and slide the bowl a little closer to the back door. She was a little shy, but within five minutes she was in our sunroom, and we shut the door. Each action resulted in a bad case of nerves for the cat, but she kept coming back to the food.

Time for the box. I got hold of her and got her into the box. Doris got the lid shut, but Holly made such a commotion she managed to destroy the box and get away from us.

Dor and I just looked at each other. Now that dumb cat was terrified of us, our box was destroyed, and we were going to have to chase her around the house just to maneuver her to where we could try again.

Not really. More sweet-talk, more food, and soon she was purring and letting me pet her, walking back and forth and rubbing against my leg. I was beginning to wonder who was sweet-talking whom.

It took, I think, two more tries and we finally got her into a plastic tub and put a child-safety fence piece over the top of it. Bungeed it down good and tight.

Animal Shelter charged us five dollars to take her. Glad they did not notice she's pregnant. Wonder if they would have charged me for the whole lot, mom and kitties, too.

Now if you go to the Darke County Animal Shelter, there is a beautiful grey and white cat, with lovely green eyes, and a meow that just melts your heart. She's going to be having kittens soon. If you like her, take her home with you. If she's still there after she's had her babies, well. . . , I think she may have sweet-talked my wife. Not me, of course. I'm immune to that sort of thing.

Here kitty, kitty, kitty. . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

An amazing day

Sunday's Worship service this week was one of those that you file away in your storehouse of special memories. God was at work in an unusual way.

We (BFC) had the joy and priviledge of baptizing five individuals, whose stories varied from a young woman coming out of a sinful lifestyle, to a couple whose marriage is being restored and who are now finding their identity in Christ, to a teen with Downs Syndrome who now grasps the Gospel of Christ, to a child from a solid, Christ-loving home. Pastor Robb read each of their testimonies to the congregation. Unforgettable!

We had the joy of celebrating the Lord's supper with a congregation moved by the redemption and grace of Christ, all of us having backgrounds steeped in multiple sorts of sins. As I have often said, if you were to describe our church with some sort of metaphor, it would be that BFC is not a museum of polished pieces, but an emergency room with blood all over the floor. We understand what it means to be forgiven, and we delight in that forgiveness!

We had the inexpressible honor of hearing a young mother describe her surgery for a brain tumor that appeared without warning, the surgery leaving her partially paralyzed on her left side. She sat in a wheelchair, this mom of a seven-year old, and described how God was transforming her and her husband's lives through tragedy and suffering, and how, through Christ, God was giving them joy inexpressible and peace unexplainable.

God was at work in unusual ways. A young man, twentysomething, could plainly see that Christ brings grace and peace to those who are broken, no matter how difficult the circumstances, and has decided to study the Gospel with me for the next six weeks or so, wondering if God can do the same for him. A woman who does not attend our church, awoke yesterday morning with a strange urge to come to BFC. After the service she, in tears, related to one of our deacon's wives her grief at the loss of her husband a year ago. She said, "this was exactly what I needed to hear this morning."

Amazing. God is so good.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ever heard this lie?

Installs in minutes! This is what was printed on the outside of the package. Like a fool, I believed it. The first indication of trouble should have been when I picked up the box, which weighed about forty pounds. Nothing that weighs forty pounds installs in minutes.

With the satisfaction of the clueless, I dragged my purchase over to the checkout register. The second indication of trouble was the price. Nothing weighing forty pounds and costing 200 bucks installs in minutes.

The third indication of trouble, which, actually, was the first if you're doing this chronologically, was philosophical. This was my last day off of the holiday break: I had all sorts of irresponsible, worthless, unproductive sheer fun planned. Count on it: whenever you've got a day like that planned, some widget in your house is going to break, and the replacement will not install in minutes.

I briefly considered the Lowes installation offer: for another 97 bucks, they will install it for me. Naah! It's just a garage door opener! What can possibly go wrong?

I can sort of imagine one German general saying to another German general, "We're just invading Russia: what can possibly go wrong?"

Never, never ask that question. Not unless you are prepared for an answer that does not install in minutes.

Got my box home, and staggered into the garage with it (okay, it's only 40 pounds, but I have not done my P90X since this summer; give me a break). Set it down, looked up, and there was my old (broken) garage door opener staring back at me, about eight feet above the floor. Umm. Looks heavy. How am I going to get that thing down without killing myself? You see, the front end of the track is bolted to the front end of the garage, and then ten feet away, connected to the other end of the track, is a heavy motor bolted to supports hanging from the ceiling. All one piece. If I unbolt one end, it tears up the wall or the ceiling mount on the other end.

Okay, I see. Somehow I have to unbolt both sides simultaneously, whilst holding the entire assembly in the air. I only need a wingspan of, maybe, ten feet, and four extra arms. No problemo.

Ninety minutes later the old, broken track is laying safely on the garage floor, but I was beginning to understand that "Installs in minutes" might have been referring to more minutes than I had counted on. The old one definitely did not UN-install in minutes.

Did I mention that it was freezing in my garage? It felt below zero, but that was probably my imagination.

The next problem was deciphering the directions to install the new opener. At least they were in English. And Mandarin. And Arabic. And French. And Spanish. And German. And Russian. And probably Old Testament Hebrew. Five of the forty pounds were taken up by the multi-lingual instructions.Two acres of rainforest were chopped down to satisfy mult-culti sensitivities.

While the directions always include helpful safety information, like, never plug in your garage door opener while standing in a bathtub full of water (not quite sure how you'd manage that), on the other hand, they frequently assume that you know stuff. They tell me to connect rail A to rail B to rail C. What they don't tell me is that you can not disconnect the rails once connected, and that, oh by the way, make sure all the holes are on top before connecting.

Two hundred and forty minutes later, the track is installed. By now I am getting pretty good at bolting on the two opposite ends of a ten foot long heavy track at the same time, while holding it eight feet in the air. I am also muttering under my breath, installs in minutes, like an angry epithet.

Now its time to string the control pad and safety sensor wires. Ever try to hammer a tiny insulated wire staple to a hard plaster ceiling while wearing gloves? Doesn't work. So off go the gloves. Ever try to hammer a tiny insulated wire staple to a hard plaster ceiling with numb hands? That does not work either. At least when your hands are numb, you can't feel it when you smash 'em with the hammer. Wonder if the garage door opener will feel it if I smash it with the hammer?

Last day of Christmas break. A few minutes past midnight I stumble into the house, frozen stiff. Miracle of miracles, the garage door actually works, but I am just too tired to clean the litter of tools, old door-opener parts, and construction materials off my garage floor. Doris' car will have to spend another night outside.

Installs in minutes? Don't you believe it!