Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 

Ginger snaps

I really shouldn't be writing this blog today, but I have already attracted a loyal following of one reader. Who cares if he is one of my best friends? I have a responsibility to my reader.

Ginger finally gave birth to her four kittens and our lives went back to normal...

But, nooooo, as my boys might say. Bright and early Monday morning I was in the family room with Cooper, and had just started trying to yoga my body back into a semblance of the human form when Jena marched into the room. She was clearly distraught.

"Family Council!" she commanded. In our household, family councils are infrequent and therefore usually momentous occasions. They invariably portend a major disruption to our - my -- domestic tranquility. Cooper and I rose reluctantly to the summons. Logan, luckily for him, was still sleeping.

"Ginger is not taking care of the kittens," she announced. She had been checking on Ginger and her litter throughout the night, and Ginger appeared to be indifferent to the needs of her kittens. "She's never in the box with the kittens when I check, and she ignores them even when they are crying!" she told us. She had been up all night worrying about it. How were we going to take care of four, day-ol kittens?

I have learned over my years of marriage that problem-solving is usually not the best response to my wife when she is upset. The best response, of course, is to listen sympathetically. Cooper seemed to know this intuitively, because he immediately came to his mother's side and hugged her and climbed into her lap. I, on the other hand, mentally consulted the manual and then, as instructed, rubbed her back and kept my mouth shut. Jena gradually began to calm down.

"Of course," she mused, "I don't really know that Ginger isn't nursing the kittens. Perhaps she gets up when she hears me coming, and really is with them when I am not there."

I saw my opportunity -- and it was golden!

"Well, I could rig up a web cam in her bedroom," I offered carefully, "and you could monitor her from your laptop."

She brightened instantly. "That would be great!" she said.

My offers to solve problems with gadgets are usually dismissed summarily and with prejudice, but on this occasion the stars were in alignment. It was the perfect solution. And it meant that rather than going immediately down to my home office to start my work day, I would be making an authorized trip to my favorite store, Fry's Electronics.

In the big scheme of things, other than my being insensitive, rude, and obnoxious, my wife has very few complaints about my behavior. But I have two vices that are particularly galling to her -- my unauthorized trips to Fry's Electronics and Borrone's Cafe. Any gadget-loving dad in northern California knows that Fry's is the best store on the planet. Every coffee-and-pastry connoisseur knows that Borrone's is the best Cafe.

Now, my wife has an uncanny knowledge about my comings and goings, and she is alert to the slightest wrinkle in my daily timeline. For example, if I am gone on a sales call for a half an hour more than anticipated, she is curious as to why. And she knows that frequently the reason why is an unauthorized trip to Fry's or Borrone's. For reasons that I have never fathomed, these unauthorized trips annoy her to no end. I guess it's the idea that I'm off having a good time while she is slaving away at home.

On this occasion, however, I was not only going to take a fully authorized trip to Fry's, but I would be able to slip in an unauthorized trip to Borrone's. My wife knows that my trips to Fry's are of unpredictable duration, generally because there are so many products to choose from and so many technical factors to consider. In this case, however, I knew -- and my wife didn't -- that picking out a web cam would be a relatively straightforward affair, one that I could pull off quickly and then exploit the short duration of my Fry's trip to squeeze in an unauthorized trip to Borrone's.

Everything went according to plan. I made a beeline for Fry's, picked out a decent web cam, make a quick trip to Borrone's for a fresh squeezed OJ and oven-warmed "Tina roll" (a kind of cinnamon roll, invented by and named after the owner's daughter) and was back in no time. The web cam worked wonderfully, and the unauthorized trip went undetected.

It was the best day of my life.

"What about Ginger?" You ask. While I was off on my quest for web cams and cinnamon buns, Jena had made contact with the Cat Lady. After learning that Ginger had been exposed to numerous visits from the boys and their friends, not to mention me and Jena, the Cat Lady admonished us, saying that all the commotion had probably caused Ginger to snap, so to speak. She was off balance. The thing to do, she continued, was to leave the cat alone! After a day of doing just that and monitoring Ginger on the web cam, we found that the Cat Lady was right. When left alone, Ginger did just fine. Ginger's snap had only been temporary.

Life, at last, returned to normal.

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