This morning, when I answered the wails of my feral cat friend Jiji and opened the door with her food, I was pleasantly surprised to see Panda – Feline Man-Whore Extraordinaire – whom I’ve been trying to trap during feral cat drop-off hours.

He usually comes by in the afternoon when it’s too late to get him, and I don’t want to keep him in my garage overnight, because he will totally piss up the place.

I had my trap out already, trying to get the cats used to it, so I armed and baited it with a plate of tasty sardines.

My first challenge was keeping Jiji out of the sardines. This is strange, because Jiji typically hates fish. But when she sees Panda going after fish, apparently it takes on the delectable flavor of Something That Other Cat Wants. So I had to shoo her out of the trap a few times and get her to settle down with her own food.

Panda was hungry. He made moves toward Jiji’s food, but thought better of it, having had his ass handed to him several times on that front. He licked the juice out of the sardine can.

He went all around the trap and found the entrance. He started to go in. This is when I got excited. I was going to get him! Finally! An end to his spotted little bastards scattered around the neighborhood!

He went up to the plate. He put his toes on the edge of it. And then – because silly human, cats are made of liquid! – he stretched his neck just far enough to snatch a sardine and GTFO.

I may have literally threw a stomping fit and if Panda could understand English, he’d know he was called many creative names.

He went back in for fish #2 (I only put two, because if you overfeed them before they have anesthesia, it can choke them at worst, and create a total vomit-fest in your car at best). Maybe he’d spring the trap this time, I thought, since this fish was a little farther away.

Nope. He just stretched a little farther.

I gave up and cleaned up and called him a little fish-snatching bastard.

I’ll try again next week, and this time I’ll chop the fish. I’m also going to ask around if I can borrow a bigger trap, because this is a long cat. I didn’t realize how long until he stretched himself from one end of a raccoon-sized wildlife trap to the other.

Panda 1, Human 0.

In other news, another feral – New for 2021! – is pregnant (I named her Two Dolla Ho after I saw her lounging on the steps with both the neighborhood toms) and I didn’t catch her when she was just sort of pregnant. She’s probably going to drop those kittens soon, I’m hoping in someone else’s yard, and I’d bet my spay-neuter vouchers at least one will be black and white spotted.

Year of the Plague

It’s hard to believe the Rona has been around for a year now, mostly because the whole year seems like it just disappeared. Like time just stopped and we all started living outside it.

What’s really heartbreaking is that half a million people are dead, and there are still others walking around pretending it’s not real.

I haven’t felt like writing much. Or doing a whole lot of anything other than the day to day stuff that keeps me and my family going.

Our schedules became very relaxed over the past year. My daughter has been attending fourth grade completely online. My son was supposed to start preschool, but we cancelled. Now he’s supposed to start kindergarten in the fall with no experience and since he barely makes the age cut-off, we aren’t even sure we’ll send him.

My husband has been working from home since last May, and since he’s been doing fine, his employer is going to let him stay remote even once Corona is…what? Under control? Contained?

It seems like eradicating it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, even with the vaccine.

Oddly enough, the first person I know to get the vaccine is my stepdad, because he is in the nursing home. Given how he landed there, that hardly seemed fair. On a positive note, my mom was able to unravel all the red tape surrounding the Stepdad Situation this year and get on with her life, more or less.

I feel like the isolation of the past year has made me an even bigger introvert. I used to have my little contained doses of a social life. Now it’s almost entirely online. I still enjoy my various hobbies but those are weirdly disjointed too. I’ll get obsessed with one, burn out, and drop it entirely until I go back to it months later.

I was planning to finally start doing something with my hobbies. Getting a booth at a craft fair or two. Taking a few baking classes. I also thought about applying to a(nother) grad program, but with the uncertainty about my kids both being in school, I didn’t. I did, however, pick up a freelance gig related to publishing that I work a few hours here and there. It’s very low-pressure, and my client is awesome.

I’ve done pretty well in isolation. It’s been nice to have time to just…piss off. I take hours making my own pie crust and crocheting families of Totoros. I discovered my long-lost love of logic puzzles. We got the kids a Switch for x-mas, and I play it more than they do. I don’t even read as much as I used to because I’m always doing something else. And my inner slob has had free reign. I practically never wear pants or a bra.

Jiji, our feral cat friend, has been our “emotional support kitty” since we got her spayed over the summer. We started letting her in for just a few minutes a few times a day over the winter. We built her a nest box with a heated pad inside and a tarp over it. She’s surprisingly gentle with the kids, but still playful for an older cat, and she loves getting pets whether she’s inside or out. My daughter needle-felted her some toys and she entertains us attacking them. So far, D. has only mildly been sniffling when we overdo it. He is considering allergy shots once it’s a bit safer to regularly go to the doctor.

We miss our friends and family. I’m looking forward to seeing them again once everyone is vaccinated. I feel very, very lucky that so far everyone I know has been safe, and that we’ve been able to swing school-at-home and work-at-home without totally losing it (although overtime has pushed it).

I have a feeling we’re going to run into difficulty when we all have to wear pants again and rejoin society, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The Pusher

Lying together after lackluster sex,
two hedonists using each other
for cheap and fleeting thrills,
we smoke cigarettes you stole
from the gas station counter
after charming the cashier
with your lightless smile
and counterfeit warmth.

Cancerous clouds curl
along the too-close walls,
blur what little gray light
struggles through the window
as you talk about
some future I cringe from
even envisioning

for this so-called relationship
on what amounts
to drunken mistakes
and my inability to say no
to your sweet sweet drugs:

I don’t think I can have
a serious relationship with you
unless you
can open
your heart
to Christ.