Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Belshaw’s World: the wicked wiles of a strange deity

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express on Wednesday 25 February 2009. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the Express columns are not on line.

I had an absolutely wonderful response to my request for names of possible map makers.

I am sorry that my email responses were so limited. We have been moving, and I have very limited access at present to email or anything else on-line for that matter.

I will respond properly once we have email connections to the new home office.

I really hate moving. First come all those dreaded cardboard boxes that have to be assembled. Then the packing starts.

In the beginning everything goes well, with boxes carefully packed and marked with the right room. Then, somehow, things start to go wrong. There is never enough time, so that the last boxes are packed in haste with things just shovelled in.

The old place has to be cleaned.

Cleaning. How I detest it! I suspect that there is a god of moving whose role is to make life difficult for all those who move. This includes depositing dust and spider webs wherever possible on every previously hidden surface.

It gets worse.

In our case, the deity in question chuckled gleefully and gave us rain. Quite a lot of it, sent down specially from Northern New South Wales. I am not saying that the rain should have stayed there, the Bellingen floods were quite bad enough, but it did add to our difficulties.

Our cats were totally freaked out by all this.

We became cat owners by accident. The retired Greek couple next door do not believe in de-sexing. Tiger (our name) decided that our place was the right place to give birth. And give birth. And give birth again. After five or so litters she moved in and we had her de-sexed.

There has been a marked attrition rate among our cats.

Jack, Tiger’s brother, was a very good looking cat with a lovely nature who enjoyed going for walks. He vanished three times.

The first time we think he was stolen on one of his walks. He was discovered more than ten kilometres away.

The second and third times he was chased away by Old Gray, the once good looking stray tom who had marked our street as his territory. We know where Jack is, he has been adopted by another family four blocks away, but decided to leave him there because he is clearly loved and looked after.

Neither Rhapsody nor Black and White were so lucky.

Rhapsody, one of Tiger’s kittens that we kept, simply vanished. Black and White was a different story.

Mistreated and abandoned, she came to our backyard heavily pregnant. Badly traumatised and still very underweight, she began giving birth under a clump of long grass in the backyard. It was raining heavily, so we carried her inside.

Initially things went well. Still very nervous, she used to sit on my desk when I was working. Then she moved the kittens one day while we were out and vanished.

Some weeks later she rushed in through the front door with another kitten, not one of her original ones, and went to the place where she knew the food was. Another cat snarled at her and she rushed back out. We never saw her again.

The scrawny underweight and frightened kitten stayed, so we gave her the name Random. Like Black and White before her, she took to sitting on my desk in front of the monitor.

In moving, we decided to take Random first to give her a chance to settle in before the other cats. This was an error. She went absolutely berserk, escaping into the new yard and then over the fence. We haven’t seen her since.

We managed to move the other cats successfully if with some difficulty, but I will miss Random.

Now we come to the final stage in the moving saga, unpacking. Here the god of moving has another trick up his sleeve. Why it is that the boxes you most need are always hidden at the bottom of a pile of boxes?

Still, I do have my computer working again. Just as well, or I would not have been able to complete this column!

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