CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Cats Are Funny People

image After taking down the Christmas decorations and my mother back to the airport Tuesday, we can finally try (operative word) to get back to some semblance of normality around here. Not that we really ever had any in the first place.

A few days of rest wouldn't go amiss either, not that I'll get 'em!

That is, once I've waded through six million loads of laundry and eaten my way through more leftovers. Good job we only had a turkey breast for Christmas. With just two of us, a whole bird really would have lasted until July. As it was, the ostrich-sized breast we got from Al Campo - which was delicious - did two meals for two humans, sandwiches, plus ample titbits for the scrounging six.

Actually, I was surprised by the sheer quantity of turkey on offer this year (as well as the numbers of traditional hams). Last year, there were a few whole birds, but we'd had to ask for a breast. This year, there were rows and rows of fresh turkey breasts, ready cut and packed. This certainly shows that customs are changing here. Turkey was never a Canarian tradition or staple.

My own tradition is to do a roughly Canarian style dinner on Christmas Eve. This year, chicken filets stuffed with ham, cheese and banana in a honey rum (Ron Miel) sauce, after a starter of langostines and followed by frangollo.

On Christmas Day, we repeat the process (only because there is little to do, except eat) with something more traditionally English: Huntingdon Stuffed Pears (basically, pear half, topped with a blue cheese, mayo and walnut filling). Turkey in a red wine and cranberry sauce, with roast potatoes, roast parsnips, creamed carrots and brussels sprouts, followed by Christmas Pudding that mother bought from Tesco and which seemed to have diverted through a distillery.

Don't get me wrong, that is definitely a recommendation for Tesco's Christmas Puddings and, the combination of brandy, rum, sherry and goodness knows what else that was listed on the label, certainly made a perfect smooth blend.

We were finally hungry again by New Year, so, I regressed back to healthy stews. Apparently, Italians eat lentils on New Year, so, I made a lentil pottage, albeit Canary style, with potatoes, chorizo ... and a nice Cava to wash it down!

The high spot of the local holiday season was the Cabalgata de Los Reyes. The night of January 5th gives us ample opportunity to pig out (really, again) on street food, such as the Sandwich Vegetal (don't be mislead, there are salad vegetables in it, as well as ham, cheese and a multitude of other non-vegetarian things) they serve at the bar opposite the Castillo San Miguel in Garachico.

My mind stopped after that. I have no idea what we had to eat on Los Reyes itself, except that I must have cooked something, because there would be no restaurants open here that day. I know what we had for pudding though.

Humans are funny people too. Why do we need to do this, just because it is a special occasion? I'm content to cook once a week and eat the same thing for at least five days to save work. For the last month, I have been producing five meals a day, endless cups of tea and coffee, snacks, sweets, drinks ...

And, before EVERY single culinary offering, mother would say, "I don't want much. Don't give me a big portion". The record stuck, but I still don't believe her!

Although it should be pointed out that the "canine waste disposal unit" has been working overtime - so much so that she, as well as the aforementioned mother, have both needed antacids at one point or another.

Thank goodness the cats settle for two simple meals of biscuits a day.

Because we've been going out frequently, mostly to eat (surprise) or go shopping and, because I can no longer leave the cats out unsupervised because of that marauding tiger, the poor darlings have been locked up again quite a bit.

You would think then, that the moment they were given their freedom today, that more than one of them might be interested in going out to play?

Nope. Not so. Kitty came out for a short walk with dog and I, then promptly dashed back indoors again to use the toilet. Think I may have over trained this cat in the niceties of bathroom use and manners, maybe?

Balu was also straight back indoors and curled up in his "day basket". Mico only goes out to do whatever, then snuggles back into my bed after his breakfast. Even Betty thought it was too cold to stay out for more than half an hour.

Only Khan stayed out until 4.15 p.m., prompt. Dinner time, by his watch.

Don't get me wrong, they weren't locked in today. At one point all the windows of the house were open, yet they still chose to be indoors. On several occasions, I have closed windows, only so the poor things aren't sleeping in a draught! They come in, voluntarily, when it rains. And, if they had wanted back out again, even once the doors and windows were shut, they only had to ask. No one did.

If they see Tiger out of the window, which has happened on several occasions, they growl and the boys all want to dash out and give him a piece of their mind, so it isn't as if they are afraid to go out. Though they would have reason to be.

One morning, they had all gone out and, caterwauling ensued no more than five minutes later. It was a horrible noise, with the dog barking too like mad, so I took her out to round up our cats again. Mico, Betty and Kitty came in immediately. Khan, I could see in the next door field. That left Balu and the noise going on about two plots down the hill. Holly and I went off in that direction. We found Balu, utterly paralysed with fear, sitting on a wall.

He didn't even try to move, so I just picked him up and carried him up the hill and indoors so I could give him an inspection. As I walked in the door I noticed that he smelt like he had shit himself. There was a very good reason for that.

Balu had shit himself! And it was all squashed and thoroughly worked into the long fur of his tail and the back of his legs. Eewww! So, he got another bath.

Which is why, currently, he is looking all fat and fluffy. It is all fur. Wet, he is like a skinny, drowned rat, no more than a couple of inches wide across the back. But, what kind of cat makes another cat that scared? It pains me.

Khan, who had been at the end of the field, keeping his distance, but looking out for his brother, rushed across the field towards us as we came up the hill.

Two days later, mind you, there was another rumpus in the afternoon and I was outside, just in time to see Balu chase Tiger off across the vines, half way to Buenavista, at great speed and with even greater determination. The screams that echoed back were bloodcurdling. Balu was gone ages. I was the one scared shitless of the consequences. We didn't see Tiger for a few days though!

When he did show his face again, he stumbled into the misfortune of attempting to cross the bridge at the end of our driveway just as I was coming down the road with the dog, Balu was on this side of the bridge. Mico was opposite him. Khan was blocking his exit at the other end.

That time, he certainly left in a hurry!

We have also been meeting other new cats on our daily outings.

First, I have been able to determine with somewhat more probability, that Tiger, does, indeed, have a bike. I said that the lady across the way said she had three kittens? One came out to meet the dog and I - feisty little bugger, all half a pound of him (dog weights about 55 lbs), back arched like a croquet hoop, fur on alert to "see her off". And, yes, he's a tiger-striped tabby, just like ...

Another morning, Holly and I went for a stroll around the vines. Khan came with us up the road, then he decided to wait for us at the entrance to the vineyards. I left him there and went back later, only to find him, well, socializing. No really, none of the hissing, spitting and caterwauling of meetings with Tiger, it honestly looked like they were just "hanging out".

image Khan was perfectly calm and walked out to greet me. A HUGE fluffy yellow cat, who was no more than a few feet from where Khan had been, rubbed itself lazily against the vine supports. To be honest, if my mother hadn't been with me and seen him too, I'd have thought I was seeing a ghost. He was the image of the cat we assume to be Balu's father, only in better condition. It is possible that this cat found himself a home.

He'd been coming to be fed from a couple of weeks after I found the kittens in May 2001, for just short of a year, until the spring of 2002. It took me most of that time to get close enough to determine that he was a boy, but, in the end, he let me pick him up and cuddle him and, more importantly, remove loads of ticks and treat him for bugs. Then he just disappeared into thin air.

It seems unlikely that the same cat turned up almost four years later, but he did look identical, looked me in the eye and was not spooked by my presence.

Haven't seen him since, so we may never know. Cats are funny people.

Pamela is a former accountant, recovering journalist and international cat herder, disabled and chronically sick with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia and Cervical spondylosis, fluent in three languages; English, Spanish and Rubbish. Mostly writes in the latter. She likes Genealogy, Model Railways and Cats.

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