Yay! Olympics!

When I was about eight years old, my father bought a camper-trailer.  Unlike today’s lightweight units, this one was built like a small shed, heavy as sin.  Being trailering tyros, we took along four full-sized concrete blocks to support the corners.  Thank something, that the days of heavy, powerful cars were not past.  I don’t know how we pulled that monster, but from then till I was 14, we went somewhere every summer.

I need to clean out the paint locker at the back of my mind and offer up another story of how a small-town boy had his horizons widened a bit.  In the meantime, this story isn’t about a trip.  It’s about who we saw when our trip was interrupted.

This was the summer of 1953, or ’54.  We had been camping here and there for almost two weeks.  We were moving from north to south, somewhere just east of Toronto.  We almost reached a main east/west highway and were stopped by a Provincial Police officer.  He told us we’d have to go back and around another way, or find a place to park at the side of the road until “She” went through.  She, who??  Queen Elizabeth, of course!  He took pity on a family of campers, and told us how to get down to the little city ahead, and where to park, but insisted that we could not cross the main road until after the parade.

We followed his directions, and decided that, if we were stranded, we might as well get a vantage-point on the sidewalk.  Mom and Dad piled up at the back of the crowd.  Mom was 4’ 11”, I don’t know if she saw anything.  Dad was 6’, he might have.  I was about eight or nine.  I just insinuated myself through the crush until I was right down front.  The crowd ran right to the curb, and wasn’t allowing any room, even for a little kid, so I just stepped off the curb and stood in front.  As the Queen and Prince Philip rolled regally through town, I was only eight feet away from her.  Big F…..ng Deal!  Can we get back to camping now?

It happened again last Friday night.  The wife and I went down to the Rec room, to watch Jay Leno, and there was that damned woman interrupting my planned enjoyment again.  The Tonight show was delayed by an hour for a broadcast of the opening of the Olympic Games.  Well, it wasn’t just her.  I got to see David Beckham, a man who makes his living on dry land, row his boat up the Thames and pass off a fancy cigarette lighter to some other guy, who gave it to a passel of pre-teen arsonists, who managed to start a big fire on the ground.

Get the feeling I’m none too impressed, yet??  How observant!  Actually, as shows go, it was a decent show.  The pacing fireworks as Bend-it’s boat raced up the river, how the individual copper leaves on the ground rose on gas-pipes, to amalgamate and form the Cauldron, the fireworks that went off after the flame was lit, all of these were grand theater.  At least they went off in a timed display, not like San Diego’s 10-second, Fourth of July, boom and fizzle.  But theater was all it was.  Bread and circuses for the masses.  Proof of this is the fact that responsibility for the show was given to a Hollywood director.

Owned, sponsored and controlled by multi-national corporations, it reminded me of the movie Demolition Man.  Do you know that attendees’ clothing style was restricted and controlled?  If you were wearing a tee-shirt mentioning Pepsi-Cola, you would be prevented from entering, because Coca-Cola bought all soft-drink promotional rights?

Perhaps it’s because I learned early that I can’t compete, but I’ve always been more of a fan of co-operation.  For every competition, there’s only one winner, and all the rest of 203 countries, are just a bunch of losers.  It’s all just a feel-good societal ego sop.  Millions of dollars poured into each country’s athletes’ training and transportation.  Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of hours spent training for this soap opera, and when it’s all over, even if “we” garner a few fake medals, not a job has been created, our GNP has not increased, nor the national debt reduced, and banks still need bailing.

Us vs. Them prevails.  Tribalist chest thumping.  I wouldn’t be so cynical if people watched simply to see top-level athletic performance.  They’ll tell you that’s why they watch, but, the same folks who haven’t even driven past a swimming pool in the last four years, are suddenly experts on synchronized three-meter diving.

These games are supposed to promote international fellowship but their very competitive format prevents it.  It all boils down to, “Our team doctor is better at masking performance-enhancing drugs than your team doctor.”

Some of the “sports” that are getting in are just ridiculous.  One person synchronized swimming?  I could send over a dictionary so they can look up the meaning of synchronized.  And the little girls running around on gym mats, waving sticks with ribbons on them??!  Are they just so chi-chi that they got kicked out of drum-majorette school?  Trampoline?!  I thought the kids down the street were just playing.  Good Lord, what’s next, Tiddly-Winks and pie baking?

Ah well, it is the middle of the summer, and there’s almost nothing else on television.  Everyone can watch what they want but, I don’t watch chick-flicks.  If I watch something by a big movie director, it better have some adult language, rock-‘em-sock-‘em Kung Fu action, car chases, explosions, and maybe a little gratuitous nudity in it.  Why is Victoria fully clothed??!

I’ve kept my eyes tightly closed for a week now.  It’s half-way over.  Soon I won’t have to worry about this meaningless display for another four years.  What’s that??  What Winter Olympics in two years??  Will it include competitive Sno-Cone Serving?  Where’s a good movie when I need one?

Cats

No, not the musical, or even the book it was based on.  This blog is about our cats.  If the wife and I can figure out how to download and insert photos, there will be pictures.  If not, you’ll just have to take my words for them.  You might want to break out the No-Doz before proceeding, but you’ve been warned.

The wife and I both love all animals, at least the ones that don’t try to take a piece out of us.  We like dogs.  We had a succession of Scotties, but when the last one died, we accepted a male wheaten/schnauzer/ poodle cross.  He would compare well, mentally, to a buckwheat pancake, if the pancake were terribly insecure and needy.

The daughter had got to know a vendor at the local farmers’ market.  Among other money-making ventures, she sells cutesy plastic signs, most of them referring to breeds of dogs.  Daughter told her how unthrilled we were with this dog, and she wanted to know why we didn’t have a cat, or seven.  We all suffer allergies, and the dog’s coat is hypo-allergenic.  We love cats, and used to have them, till allergies became too strong.  Well, wouldn’t you know it; she had just the solution to our problem.

She used to raise emus, have them butchered and sell the meat and various other parts, but ended up losing money on them.  Now she raises miniature dachshunds and Bengal cats.  Bengals don’t have fur.  They have hair; there is a difference.  These are also non-allergenic.  She just happened to have a male which had been returned.  His owner had some medical problems and didn’t have the strength or money to deal with the cat’s medical problems.  Turns out, the biggest problem was a vet who was taking her to the cleaners.  She had paid $500 for this beautiful cat, but we could have him for free, so the breeder didn’t have to keep feeding and maintaining him.

Bengals were produced by breeding an Asian wildcat with various housecats.  If you’ve seen a Benylin TV commercial with a *tour guide*, at the end of it there are a couple of shots of a slinky, spotted, ocelot-type feline, up on a branch.  I think that’s my cats’ ancestor. Whatever it was, apparently it dealt with lots of water in the wild.  Bengals can be identified by their webbed feet.  Spread their toes, and they can almost walk on water, and water, especially running water, fascinates them.  If I pour a bath and climb in, I’m soon the subject of much supervision, a couple from the tub rim.

It depends on what domestic cat and coloring was used, to produce certain markings.  They come in spots, rosettes, which are spots which have opened to donuts, stripes, and marbled, which is dark stripes against a dark coat.  The next step up is a Savannah, produced by cross-breeding certain Bengals.  Their colors and shaping are even nicer than Bengals.  My daughter has two of them at her house.  These cats are incredibly intelligent.  They’d be easily trainable, if they weren’t so damned independent.

The first one we got would have been the only one we got, except…. they don’t have the domestic strength of a housecat.  The over-busy vet injected him for feline leukemia, and used live culture.  The breed can’t resist live-culture, and he actually got the disease.  Called Cinnabar, which is an ore of mercury, he was one damned fine cat.  He would come when you called.  He could play fetch, and he liked to eat snow.  We found that out one day when we let the dog out and a bit got kicked inside.  From then on, if the dog went in or out, I had to toss a handful of snow on the mat, and he would eat it like a sno-cone.  We had him less than a year.  He was an early generation, and can never be replaced by later models.

All Bengals suffer to some degree with feline hyperesthesia, called ripple skin.  You can watch their coat and see the skin wiggle around.  These cats don’t want to be petted, they want to be scratched, firmly, especially down the spine and at the base of the tail, or smacked there.  The wife thumps one male on his bony ass so hard, she bruises her hand.  If animal welfare saw us pounding on these cats, they’d probably confiscate them, but the cats love it.

We drove 75 miles to a supposedly reliable breeder for our next male.  He was a failed stud.  Beautiful coloring and configuration, but he had to keep telling the lady cats, “This has never happened to me before.”  He cost us $500 and he was/is so hyper that we have to give him amitriptyline twice a day, to keep the yowling down.  When we had him vet checked, we found that he was skinny because of two different stomach parasites.

Besides his nerve pills, we were supposed to give him two different medications each day.  Like a chemotherapy program, the three meds almost killed him.  We had to stop the one, get him cured of the first, and then go back to kill off the second.  The breeder refunded us our money and then shut down her cattery for an antiseptic purge.  This guy we called Mica.  Some of the cats’ hair is hollow, and his hollow hair is the whitish, and it glistens silvery/white in the light, like the mineral mica does.

We have a total of four cats, another two males and an ex-breeder female.  I dote on them all, but your attention span is only so long.  I thank you if you’ve read this far without dozing off.  Perhaps we’ll leave the other three, and maybe the photos for another day.  Dogs have owners.  Cats have staff, and this staff has to go feed one of them.