Monthly Archives: April 2011

The antics, quirks and other endearing qualities of my animals: Part 1

Since the day I was born I’ve been around animals. Apparently, at the ripe old age of two I chose our dog, Sally, from the animal shelter. The fact that this dog turned out to be borderline psychotic, chasing cars, eating snail bait and almost poisoning herself, biting anyone my dad got mad at, did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm and love for animals. Despite her crazy tendencies, that dog was the most loyal, gentle and loving friend any kid could hope to grow up with.

But it does seem that my first choice has set me up for a lifetime of selecting pets with weird quirks. I’m not sure if everyone’s pets have similar strange tendencies, but mine have all had very strong, very individual character traits. Anyone who thinks animals don’t have their own personalities should, quite frankly, be shot. Repeatedly.

If I went through every animal I’ve ever owned, these posts could be endless, so I’ll stick with those who are currently part of our family. This post is devoted to Wednesday, the first pet in my collection after I’d moved out of home.

Wednesday

She turned up on the street outside my friends’ place as a three month old kitten, a little black stray with vivid yellow eyes. She came into my life at precisely the right time, as I was about to spend a year living by myself, a move that turned out to be a challenging one for me, but one that I only got through with the company of my little black cat. George named her Wednesday, but for some unknown reason, we have only ever called her The Kitty.

Wednesday is the sweetest, prettiest cat you can imagine, and she’s been a charmer from the first. One day my neighbour confessed to me that, on her day off, Wednesday had been coming over to visit her for a few hours. This habit had begun when her young daughter said to her: ‘Mummy, the cat got in!’ As she held the door open for her.

Despite being almost 12 years old now, she still has a penchant for those little toy mice you can buy from the vet, scurrying around after them and doing backflips to try to catch them if you throw them over her head. She almost never drinks out of the bowl set aside for her and the other animals, but every night she tries to drink out of George’s water glass when we go to bed. He’s now taken to putting a beanie over the glass until he’s drunk enough that she can’t reach it.

Despite being almost excessively timid of every movement, loud noise, person or animal, Wednesday is very fond of our dog Jedi, who is at least ten times her size. Whenever he’s near her, she licks his ears and his face. Sometimes she’ll bat him on the nose if she believes he’s being impudent.

Our other, younger cat loves to terrorise her, and she is appropriately frightened by him, but when it’s time for them to be fed, she takes advantage of the distraction to sniff him all over and lick his face. She runs from him if he tries to chase her, but whenever he actually approaches her politely, she’ll glare at him and then give him a few slaps around the head.

She is obsessed with heat. She loves to roll in the driveway in the sun and catch cockroaches on warm evenings. Years ago she used to lie in front of the bar heater until she got so hot she’d get up, whimpering, turn around and bake her other side. She even enjoys licking our bowls when we’ve been eating something spicy.

She loves to be outside, but for some reason our backyard fills her with terror. Out in the real world, however, she’ll go anywhere. We used to go on midnight walks around the block with Jedi, and she would always follow us. Even now, when I bring her inside every night, she forces me to go through an elaborate game before she’ll allow herself to be caught. She always hangs out around the units next door, but if I walk straight up to her, she’ll skitter away at the last minute. Again and again. So if I ‘pretend’ that I’m just going for a walk, she’ll start following me up the footpath until we’ve gone an appropriate distance before I’m allowed to turn around and pick her up.

She has the softest, most pathetic meow – in fact, it’s more a ‘meep’ than a ‘meow’ – and yet somehow she manages to channel all the pain and despair of the world into it when she wants something. She’s got George wrapped around her paw, and where I’ll just ignore her until she gives up and finds somewhere to sleep, he gets all cut up by her apparent distress and does whatever she wants. I can just imagine what it’s going to be like if we have a daughter…

All our animals have their own distinctive voices, and Wednesday sounds just like the Queen of England. She doesn’t like to be disturbed when she’s made herself comfortable, even if she’s sitting on your chest two centimetres from your face and practically suffocating you. She never bites or scratches, but has the most effective expression of disdain I’ve ever encountered. May the gods save you if you ever dare to spray deodorant within a 10 metre radius of her.

She only likes the expensive-type food in the little tins, and within that narrow criteria, she prefers anything with fish, and definitely nothing that’s too chunky. She also likes the fresh meat you can buy in individual packaging, but she reserves the right to go on a hunger strike at any time. She also must eat in solitude, preferably in the bathroom with the door closed, or she spends 80% of the time looking over her shoulder to make sure no one is trying to kill her while she eats. No matter how much or how little I give her, she almost always leaves a bit in the bowl.

She finds cat litter demeaning and avoids using it at all costs. I think this is partly because she has a bit of a mental blank with the whole thing. Outside, she copes just fine, but put her in a litter tray and she doesn’t know how to cover it up. She’ll paw at the wall, at the ground outside the box, anything but the actual litter, all the while looking terribly confused about the whole affair.

Above all, Wednesday loves to sleep, in the warmest spot she can find. She’s been known to curl up in drawers, in the washing basket, inside bags or open suitcases, in the cupboard, on people’s chests, under the covers in our bed, on my pillow, on the laptop.

Wednesday – or, should I say, The Kitty – is the longest serving member of our household. She has the least demanding personality, but she nevertheless asserts her importance on a daily basis. Hoping she’ll be around for another twelve years.

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One ending, another new beginning

Tonight, I completed the final draft of one of my three manuscripts.

It’s been three months since my last blog post, mostly due to the fact that I didn’t really have anything new to say about my writing. This last draft has taken me a little longer than I’d hoped, and a big part of me is glad that it’s done. Completing a story to the point that it’s ready to go out into the world (well, as ready as I can get it on my own, anyway) is a big achievement. And I’ve done it in four drafts, an improvement over my first, of which I am about to commence draft six.

I can feel my skills improving with each edit. I’m better able to visualise the story as a whole before I delve into specific chapters, phrases, words. I’ve even got a somewhat realistic hope that I’ll be able to get my third manuscript finished in only three drafts.

I don’t fool myself that it’s really really finished. I know that if an agent or a publisher picks it up, there’ll be plenty more work to do. But I’ve got it to the most polished point that I can without professional advice.

I should be happy. Ecstatic, even.

But, after racing towards this goal for the last five months, I feel strangely empty. I’d expected to feel upset to be letting it go, to saying goodbye to my characters. I am pregnant, after all. A particularly shiny teaspoon makes me teary, for Christ’s sake. But I don’t feel much at all.

I know it’s ready to go. And I’ve got my first manuscript to work on, and a clear vision of what I need to do with it. Tonight, I’m going to rest, and tomorrow morning I’m going to sleep in. I don’t know how many days I’ll take off before I get back into it.

But I do know that when the time is right, I’ll sit down with that dog-eared manuscript I sent off to Brisbane last year, and which has since travelled to Sydney, then to Brisbane again, before coming home with me to Adelaide. I’m not ready just yet, but I suspect the time will be here before I know it. I’m looking forward to it.


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