Thursday, September 29, 2011


You remember all those kittens, right? And you remember the mother cats who gave birth to them, right?

It all started with a cat named Spot, after the big triangular grey spot on her nose.

Spot, bless her heart, is the one who originally showed up in my breezeway last December, her three little kittens in tow. And in the early spring she had Aleister; but not long after that she looked to be pregnant again. A kitten-making machine, our Spot, her modus operandi being to give birth to them and then abandon them on my doorstep. Thanks, Spot.

But then she disappeared. I had assumed at first that she was off somewhere I couldn't find nursing her kittens; but something like three and a half months went by and I saw neither her nor any sign of any kittens. I honestly thought she was dead, and even went as far as to break the news to Aleister.

Then about a week and a half ago I look out the glass door into the breezeway and there she was like nothing happened. She was not even a little bit dead; however she did look like she could be a little bit pregnant, maybe. Great.

The next time I saw her though she looked perfectly normal; not scrawny, but not roundish either.

That's when I finally got my hands on some traps, after calling and calling and calling every local charity, animal shelter, and animal control office I could think of. It was Boston that came through, though they aren't particularly local and are a bit of a drive. Luckily though Tara was going over there one night and picked them up for me.

So last night I set them up, with the irresistible bait of some nice smelly tuna. And to my surprise the first one who showed up was not one of the grouchy old tom-cats like Old Scratch, but shy skittish Spot herself. She found the tuna on the plate outside the trap, then followed her nose to the little dollop just at the mouth of it; she gobbled that up then walked a couple steps to the second dollop, a little further in; then on to the third one, just before the trigger-plate. And there I stood in the hallway looking out at her with my fingers crossed holding my breath hoping hoping hoping; and then she stepped all the way in to scarf down the prize of the big pile of tuna way in the back.

And triggered the plate and the door came crashing down and hey presto! she was trapped.

I ran out there and threw a sheet over her so she'd stop freaking out, because she was, rather.

After she calmed down I picked up the trap, because I needed to see something. After a few minutes she finally moved enough so I could see her belly, and sure enough, she had some serious nipples going on there. She was lactating. Which means she has had a litter of kittens, somewhere hidden in this yard or nearby. They would be, I'd guess, not much more than a week old right now. And since week-old kittens cannot survive without their mother for the twenty-four hours she'd be away from them if I were to bring her in and get her spayed, I let her go. I didn't have much choice. I don't know if I'll ever get her in a trap again.

After Spot scrambled off to who knows where, I set the trap again. A few minutes later Splotch saunters up the stairs. Intrigued by the inviting scent of the additional tuna I'd put out, sure enough, one, two, three there she goes into the trap, all the way to the back, stepping on the catch plate.

Except this time nothing happens. The door stays open.

I stand there and curse.

I open the door and Splotch of course runs off. I reset the stupid thing, with more tuna, this time making sure the door is barely held open by the catch. The traps I did get a hold of are larger and sturdier than the usual Havahart traps; I think they are really designed for larger animals, and so maybe these little feral cats just don't weigh enough.

I went back to waiting. Sure enough Splotch is back in a couple minutes; and having learned that the trap—I mean luxury dining quarters filled with free tuna—is safe, has no problem walking right in all the way to the back. This time the damned thing snaps shut and Splotch proceeds to freak out. I throw the sheet over it and she calms down. In a couple minutes I put her in the garage and set up the second trap.

It took Smudge a while but she eventually came by. And sure enough, she didn't set the thing off first try, either. But I got her on the second try.

So after staying overnight in the garage, with no food after midnight, they got packed up in the car stupidly early this morning to go to a clinic in Rhode Island. I dropped them off and then picked them up this afternoon. They are now missing both the tip of their left ears and, and this is very important, their uteri. Splotch, by the way, was already pregnant.

So that's two of them, anyway. Yay.

They are now in the garage again, recovering for a day or two, after which I'll let them go. I imagine they'll eventually forgive me, especially since I have a big bag of cat chow I'm willing to share.

The lady at the shelter said to try again for Spot in a month's time, when her kittens are five weeks old. If, that is, she doesn't just disappear again. And if she brings her new kittens by, if they survive (Aleister was apparently either an only child, which I've never heard of, or the only one in his litter who survived), well then here we go again because I'll have to catch them and socialize them, and foster them and give them up for adoption and all that all over again. Because if I don't—it will never stop.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ironing It Out

A couple of days ago must have seen that rarest of conjunctions, Mercury, Mars, and ex-planet Pluto aligning with the galaxy just by Orion's belt; for, a couple of days ago, Tara got a sticker on the bus. And it wasn't the kind with a big red R on it.

Well, rather, she managed to scotch-tape and bondo the thing together for the fifteen minutes it takes to pass inspection. Which is no small feat, don't get me wrong.

Of course, later, as she was crowing about how everything now actually worked on the Bus, I noticed a tail light that didn't. However a quick whack to the back of the thing and it came back on.

But wait! I hear you say, hasn't she been driving it for like a year now?

Why yes. And?

So today we took the thing on its first legal trip to the scrapyard, loaded up with the bits and bobs of 'precious' metals, as well as a fair amount of regular old iron. Most of the precious being a pile of old wiring and some VW generators, and including a prized catalytic converter. Although, looking at the receipt now, I don't see that particular precious thing on there, though I see something labelled 'Aftermarket' that net us a whole $5, about $70 less than a cat should fetch. I will call them in the morning; the guy who sorted our stuff looked to be new, as I didn't recognize him and he had to ask the other guy what some of the codes were. I will assume it was an honest mistake for the time being. We shall see what they say tomorrow.

At any rate even with that omission which will be cleared up even if I have to use my Scary Bitch Voice (trust me, it's handy sometimes), it was a decent haul. Here's the side view of the bus:

That hunk of rust at the bottom may look unassuming, but Tara assures me it was so freakin' heavy it required an elaborate system of levers and platforms to inch it up high enough to get it inside.

Also, we're apparently being haunted, to judge by that 'orb' left bottom. I suppose it's just the Ghost of Volkswagens Past. Those poor shades do linger about the place, even with the best efforts of that most excellent exorcist Rusty Jones.

And here's the back view:

Those cylinder things are the old VW generators, which are also way freakin' heavier than they look, apparently being made of either dwarf star alloy, or that stuff in the little cube that Avon opted to shove out the airlock instead of Vila. I mean, not that it was his first choice.

At any rate it was our thirty-eighth trip to the scrapyard, and we got rid of another 620 pounds of iron, bringing the total of iron removed from the property since March 2008 up to 33,000 pounds even, or 16.5 tons.

Ai yi. There's still more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bug Out

Well it's been a while, I have to say. I was beginning to wonder if maybe our dear old Mr. Jones had forgotten all about us. Why I was fixin' to have my heart broke, I was. But he came through, old stalwart Rusty.

But not before he had a bit of a tease with us. A couple of weeks ago my sister ran into someone interested in buying one of the old Bugs. Now, I'm not sure there's much left to the things, as I'm pretty sure the only thing holding them together at this point is rust molecules and memory, but I wasn't going to argue with someone who would pay us actual money for the thing. Ostensibly the guy is going to make a rat rod out of it, which, if you don't know what those are, is I think a hot rod that looks like a piece of crap. And no, I can't fathom why anyone would want to do that.

But someone does. Someone who cut a check, which cleared. So we moved the thing out from behind the shop up to the driveway, so it could be picked up more easily, without someone having to manoeuver a ramp truck down back.

They were going to pick it up a couple Tuesdays ago.

That Tuesday came and went. Then they were going to pick it up last Saturday.

Well, we had a hurricane coming, and so the Bug stayed where it was.

Now, yes, hurricanes are a bit of an exceptional circumstance. Still, I was a bit worried about it, especially when I heard that the guy was trying to get it home when his wife wasn't looking. Crap, I thought, we've just enabled another hoarder. Or at least an inconsiderate jerk, you know?

I was also worried because it was beginning to sound an awful lot like something that has happened before. My father, way back in the day, once sold a pair of I think Spitfires to some guy. Who paid for them. They even ended up in the driveway, I assume to make it easy for the guy to come and get them.

He never came.

And when I say never, I mean the damned things sat there for ten or fifteen years. I still haven't heard anything from the guy; dude's probably dead.

But it put them in this weird limbo. My father, never one to throw anything out anyway (just in case you hadn't heard), of course couldn't even imagine touching them at all since they were officially someone else's; so there they sat. Couldn't junk 'em, and certainly couldn't move them, since the guy could come by at any time. No, it doesn't make sense. Nothing much did, with my father.

I think we did eventually junk them, finally. At any rate they aren't here now, that's for damned sure.

Of course with this blue Bug I was going to give the guy a bit of a chance. Like I said, I understand about hurricanes. But if I started getting the runaround I was perfectly willing to start charging the guy rent for the use of my driveway, say $100 a week. Yeah, I'm dead serious. I have no patience for that kind of crap anymore, as you may well imagine.

But today when I got back from an appointment the thing was no longer there. I don't recall noticing it when I left, come to think of it, and since yesterday I didn't even get out there to the driveway I'm honestly not sure when it went away. But it's gone now, and that's what counts.

So, here's a before, of the spot over by the shop:

And the after:

I do love me some empty space.

So that puts Rusty's countdown at ten rusty cars down, with sixteen of the damned things to go. We've cracked the double digits, hey. And this one was special (well, to me, anyway), because it was one of those damned old Volkswagens, which you've probably heard by now that I hate hate hate. So it's extra wonderful to see one of those things go.


As for the kittens:

They are all still here, though two of them were scheduled to go last Friday to the no-kill shelter to be adopted out. Except of course the exact two who were to leave miraculously came down with diarrhea the day before. A little too convenient, if you ask me. It's been this whole crazy juggling act where as soon as I think I've got one thing under control another thing pops up, since they can't go anywhere until they get the all-clear healthwise, i.e., no fleas, no eye infections, and have had all their shots and meds. But whatever they had wasn't contagious (I have my suspicions that they chewed on a Christmas cactus they shouldn't have been able to reach), and wasn't even toxic, just disagreeable, since they are now fine and will Gods willing go to a nice lovely home via the posh shelter in the northern part of the state, where, I heard, the last batch of kittens the local shelter brought up there were adopted out within an hour!

We've been keeping Aleister and Splotch's batch in the dining room, which given the way this house is built puts the windows in the back right at ground level by the patio. Now, I feel I must publicly apologize to Splotch (well, not that she reads blogs, I don't think) for assuming she was a bad mother. Because she has been outside that dining room window every day looking in on her kittens. She has in fact taken to sleeping on the other side of the screen, on what there is of a windowsill on the outside, and when her kittens mew for whatever reason she brrrrtts! right back, all concerned. She has also, on occasion, left dead mice on that windowsill, even though her kittens can't reach it and have plenty of tasty Kitten Chow of their own. So, I'm sorry I doubted you, Splotch. You are a good, good, mommy-cat.