Happy Moving Day

When I got married two years ago, I brought to the union lots of neat new things for our house: antique furniture, heirloom linens, Le Creuset – and a cat named Calpurnia. All were welcomed, except Cal. Because already living in the house was my husband’s cat, Eve. As in…the first.

The fur-flying fights stopped after about six months. The need for two sets of bowls and two litter pans placed strategically around the house ended after about a year. Now they often accompany each other to eat or pee, waiting before taking a turn, for surveillance purposes, perhaps in tolerance—definitely not with fondness. Especially with the last frontier continuing to be our bed. Eve had been accustomed to sleeping in “the big room upstairs with the man” and Cal had been used to “the big cat bed the lady likes to sleep on too.” Both felt they had territorial rights, which meant nights jolted awake to an ear-piercing “Rowwwww!!!”

This had been life in our two-cat house until last week when we moved my great-Aunt Betty’s scalloped-edge Queen Anne end table out of the corner of the living room into the dining room in preparation for the delivery of our wood stove. That’s when the starting gun cracked the air and eight little feline legs galloped across our bamboo floor with the din of the Persian advance. They propelled and plummeted themselves from sofa to chairs to floor, the pads of their feet barely making contact with a surface as they whipped and bounced and flew around the room. Our cats were playing together, their simple kitty lives suddenly expanding, although Eve, who’s zaftig (that’s Yiddish for overweight), rested by the table a lot, batting her chubby paw while Cal continued her mad dashes. She was showing off.

They are now both sleeping on our bed.

It occurred to me that if the tiniest change could bring peace to our home – and get a fat cat to burn up a few calories – what minor adjustment might I make so that 2012 will be enriching, harmonious, and healthful? I know this sounds like making resolutions, but being an uber-competitor albeit moderate achiever, my resolutions were always too lofty and soon broken. So this year, my easy-breezy modification list so far includes cutting back to one bag of Cheez Doodles a week and telling my husband I love him before pointing out when he does something I don’t like. I think the second one alone will cover enriching, harmonious and healthful.

Now, what can you move out of your corner?

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To All a Good Night

When my husband and I started dating I warned him before visiting my parents’ home the first time that “My mother is very clean.” We arrived at the house before Mom and Dad returned for the day, and for fun, Ken tore off a piece of white paper towel from the kitchen counter, then wiped it across the top of the molding above the dining-room door.

He promptly removed his shoes.

I was pushing a vacuum when the upright Hoover was taller than I was. If we ran the faucet in the kitchen sink after dinner had been cleaned up, we were to wipe out the watermarks with a towel designated for that purpose only. And we did not leave for school until we’d made our beds.

Making the bed is something I have done every morning of my life (except for days when I stayed there due to illness). If you sleep at my sister’s house and need to use the bathroom after dawn, the joke is she’ll make the bed before you’ve had a chance to flush. That’s how we are programmed, thanks to the motherboard. Pun intended.

My husband stopped asking me long ago why we need to make the bed if we’re getting back into it at night. After all, he had administered the paper-towel test. To children I’ve replied, “Because it looks nice.” That never works. “Because the sheets get dusty.” That sometimes works; though, generally, kids don’t care about dirt. “Because the cat will lie on your pillow all day and you’ll choke on her fur in your sleep.” Scare tactics do work, although the reality is cats burrow there anyway.

However, there’s another reason I make the bed that has nothing to do with orderliness, cleanliness or avoiding asphyxiation. Instead of feeling like I’m on a treadmill in the continuum of crawling in and out of a pile of cotton and quilt, pulling back the bedspread is an act of closure to another day of work, of family, of chores, of successes and disappointments. And in the morning, when I neaten the covers and punch the pillows back into place, in what has become more of a ritual, I get to start all over again. Kind of like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

So as the year draws to a close, some may want to run the metaphoric vacuum, others wipe out their symbolic sink. Me, I want to pull back the covers on the bed I not only made for myself, but have lain in all year. And come “morning,” I will smooth out the folds and wrinkles and start all over again.