M. Giant's
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008  

Digging Out Part II

Last weekend I installed a wall bracket for the TV in my study, partially to hep ralize Trash's vision for the room and partially to make recapping more ergonomic. The bracket comes with four huge wood screws that are designed to go through the sheetrock (or plaster, in our case) and anchor themselves into the stud behind them.

Under the impression that wall studs are generally sixteen inches apart, I marked four little circles to drill the pilot holes. I am proud to say that I only drilled one hole before realizing that I wasn't anywhere near a stud. Reaming the end of a bent hanger around inside the hole didn't help me locate one.

Now, I'm not sure about this, but I think I own a stud finder – one of those handheld electronic devices that you hold up to the wall and it magically tells you of there's a stud behind that spot. But after rummaging around in my tools on the basement storage shelves for several minutes, I eventually gave up and returned empty-handed. And I located the stud the old-fashioned way: by tapping on the wall with a hammer until I found a spot that sounded less hollow. Only drilled two dud holes in the wall in the process, too. So the job got finished, at least.

But I realized that what I really need is…wait for it…a stud finder finder.

* * *

Once Excavator figured out that we humans, at least, meant him no harm, his kittenish exuberance came to the fore. We had forgotten what that's like.

I sensed that we had made a breakthrough when, at bedtime last Thursday, I hauled him out of the back of our closet without having him hiss at me even once. Then, when I got in bed, I put him on my chest, and he commenced purring. That's what he did all night, in fact. I know this because Trash and I were awake for most of it.

He and I bonded for a while. And then he and Trash bonded for a while. And then all three of us bonded for a while. And then just he bonded, because Trash and I were trying to get to sleep. His bonding, however, made that difficult.

Some kittens' idea of bonding is a little kneading and snuggling, Excavator's, we are learning, is roughhousing. What this means is that you gently stroke his fur, and he responds by wrestling with your hand, kitten-sharp claws and teeth out just enough that you constantly feel their points. It's a bit like petting a squirming cactus.

And then you stop petting because you're dozing off, but he's still working your fingers, alternating between licking them and tickling them with his claws and brushing them with his teeth. You just sort of lie there and tolerate it, pulling your fingers out of his mouth every minute and a half or so, just when you feel a set of pointy molars about to chomp down for real. Then you sleep with your hands under the covers.

And that's when he comes for your face. I remember this phase with Turtle, and the untold number of nights I spent sleeping with my face under my pillow. But at least Turtle kept her teeth out of it.

After a long, long while, Excavator settles down, and takes his Howitzer-fire purring downrange to curl up between our legs. And then this…this is when you hear the other bedroom door open and shut, and the sound of sock-clad feet padding down the hall to your room, and the approach of a three-year-old who wants to climb in bed with you. Which he does, and then thirty seconds later he announces, "I want to go back to my bed," like, who's stopping you, Sparky? But of course he wants a ride, so by the time two boys get out of the bed and one comes back, the boy who stayed the whole time -- specifically, the small, black, fluffy one -- is all excited again. And by the time he's settled back down, the three-year-old is back, and this time he has to pee.

Not since M. Small was still M. Tiny have Trash and I endured such a wretched night's sleep. In between our two young boys tag-teaming us through the wee hours, and my fitful dreams about a whole chapter I forgot to include in my book (not that I can remember a word of that chapter now) and about an awkward double date Trash and I were having with John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer (I'm spending way too much time weecapping The Office lately), I could barely stir at eight a.m. Which was doubly unfortunate, since I was supposed to get up at seven.

At one point I actually said to myself, "If we hated sleep this much we would have gotten another baby." Completely forgetting to take into account the fact that we kind of had.

As of this writing, Excavator has settled down a bit. Like, if you try to avoid his attentions by creating an airtight seal around your head using your blanket and your pillow, he'll stop trying to pry his paws in there after no more than a half hour or so. It's nice to see him mellowing out, but I'm already starting to miss the days when he was more kittenish. Except when I'm sleeping, obviously.

posted by M. Giant 7:22 PM 6 comments


This is exactly the reason that we long ago started kicking the cats out of the bedroom at night. Well, it started with this, but now that they're old, it's because they decide they are hungry at 4 or 5 am and start knocking stuff off shelves.

By Blogger dancing_lemur, at January 16, 2008 at 3:49 AM  

As the humans in a family of a similar cat, I don't know if it will give you hope or dread to hear that some cats don't ever completely outgrow this phase.... Our Chloe will be six in April and still attempts to disrupt our sleep repeatedly on a nightly basis. Lock her out of the bedroom? She'll yowl in the hall like she's being given a full-body wax, and that just keeps the kiddo up, too. No sense in having more cranky Smiths than we need to come the 6am alarm!

One method we've found for getting at least a few hours of sleep is to thoroughly tire the eternally kittenish Chloe out just before we go to bed. The most effective manner we've found of doing this is to have her play "chase the red dot" from a laser pointer - up and down the stairs, the hall, around the downstairs, eventually she gets wiped out. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha, beautiful, undisturbed sleep! :D

(We've also found the "chase the red dot" game works to tire the kiddo out too, but that's a different story..........)

By Blogger Heather, at January 16, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

Pictures??? Please?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 16, 2008 at 1:57 PM  

Our cat spent the better part of his childhood methodically destroying every single paper-based article in our house. Once that mission was completed, he developed an annoying tendency to howl loudly while knocking things off shelves. We kept thinking he would grow out of it, but he is now 6 years old and I still have to block off our bookshelves with clear vinyl and thumb tacks.

By Blogger GhostGirl, at January 16, 2008 at 4:20 PM  

I second the picture request!

By Blogger Sweet Crafty Lady, at January 17, 2008 at 8:29 AM  

I'm such a sucker for punishment, because this makes me want a kitten!

- JeniMull

By Blogger Williams Family, at January 17, 2008 at 9:47 AM  

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