There’s a book, somewhere in this house, called The Black Death. I was looking for this book for blogging purposes, when my quiet morning turned into quite the kerfuffle, thanks to Oz the Ever Helpful.
I had put my bagel into the toaster, and to mark the passing toasting time, I was roaming around the house, where there is a bookshelf or two or four or — there are some books in this house, okay? I did not find the book I was looking for this morning, but I did find three other books I’ve been looking for.
You know, no matter where I start this, it’s not far back enough. So let’s back up, to the part where Marrakesh was sinking his claws into the mat by the front door.
Nope, not far enough. Who knew there was this much backstory to my morning? We have to go back several weeks, to when Na Ki’o’s blood sugar started spiraling out of control.
I made a vet appointment with the man who has seen my animals for decades. He and I have a long-standing disagreement about insulin administration: he’s of the opinion that we should give the same number of units every shot, while Lynn and I instead test Ki’o’s blood sugar just like Lynn does for herself, and adjust the dose accordingly.
At my request, the vet ran lots of blood tests, but everything came back normal, except perhaps Ki’o’s sugar. He theorized that it could be insulin resistance, and added, as an afterthought, “Of course, the weight gain doesn’t help.”
Our understanding of Na Ki’o’s Before Time is that he led a very sedentary life, bedside companion to an elderly, ailing woman. He spent 18 months in the care of the animal shelter before we adopted him, which is a shame for everyone but us, because he’s a real sweetie with the loudest purr in the world. He deploys it often, too, but he’s not very big on cat toys or play.
Early on we tried to encourage him to go outside — up until day Khonsu disappeared, we presume at the claws or talons of a predator. Then we got Marrakesh, and there’s no keeping him inside, no matter how much it rattles us when he doesn’t return on schedule, as he did to us just the other day, arriving after midnight with an entire prickly bush attached to his back leg but not seeming contrite at all.
And now that Ki’o has grown even fatter, because it took us too long to realize the true value of the stairs in our old house, the stairs that he ran up and down numerous times daily in anticipation/hope of getting some food out of the deal, we are back to encouraging him to get outside. Not for any great length of time and not too far, but if it gets him moving around, we’ll take it.
Since Marrakesh is a cat who never knows what he wants, only that it’s not whatever he’s doing right then, it makes life much easier, as soon as the weather becomes tolerable, to just open a door in the morning so he can come and go. So Marrakesh comes and goes, and Ki’o ventures out, not for any great length of time and not too far, while Oz plunks himself just inside the door: inside, but taking in the outside world. And I sit around with cold feet, tolerating the open door because it makes everyone else content.
Now that you know that much, we can finally get back to this morning, when Marrakesh was sharpening his claws on the front door mat rather than the back door he usually likes to operate from. I opened the door; he and Ki’o went out to the sidewalk, and Oz stationed himself at the threshold.
I put my bagel in the toaster and then went book-hunting, finding not The Black Death but three Blondie books owned by my mom when she was young. Most of us know Blondie and her husband Dagwood from comic strips, but some books were written about her too, back in the day, and I now have three of them: the brown one, the green one and the blue one.
I picked them up from the shelf they were on and took them to my self-made bookcase where I am amassing my collection of what passes for antiquarian around here, including the Big Little Books I still have from my own early days.
While I was at the bookcase, I heard Oz give a short, sharp bark. When I came out, here were two cats just inside the door, and no dog at all. I looked out the front door and didn’t see him, and that’s when the kerfuffle became fully engaged.
I found my slippers and headed down the sidewalk, still not seeing Oz. Clearing the corner of the garage I saw a man, one of the many who doesn’t live here but makes our roads and paths part of his regular constitutional, along with his dog. I saw the man, over by the north pond, and then I saw Oz cavorting with the guest dog.
I tried calling for Oz, but my throat was clogged with phlegm. (Allergy season.) I tried clearing my throat, but only got out a croak. I tried once more, then gave up. Determining that a bicycle would be the fastest means of catching up, since the man had just decided to move on and leave Oz to follow, I opened the garage door.
My car was taking up most of the space, and the car cover was draped over my blue bike, which was closest to the door. It was actually going to be easier to get the John Deere (bike, not a tractor) out, despite it being behind the blue bike. But a never-used table for my rarely-used chop saw was in the way, so I had to move it before the bike could roll out.
I got on the bike, not used since sometime last fall. If you are a bike rider, you know the next part of the story: the back tire was flat.
I put the bike next to the table, wadded the car cover up and added it to the pile, then wheeled out the blue bike. In my slippers with no jacket or helmet, I finally got out onto the semi-open road.
Oz was a couple curves down it, near his friend Rufus’ house, the guest man and dog nowhere in sight. I turned the bike around and made him run back to the house — he probably didn’t see it as punishment at all.
By then my bagel was cold and today’s original blog topic toast along with it. Oz appears unrepentant; Marrakesh has let me open the back door four times before deigning to come in; and Ki’o . . . well, he turns out to be more fat than insulin resistant, because with a change in food and a more concerted effort to get him moving, his blood sugars have at last returned to normal numbers.
Which means, I suppose, that the doors will remain open, with the chance of more kerfuffles around every corner or the house.