Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Amarikan Gothic

Owning a home is the Amarikan dream. Owning a brand spanking new home is an even better dream. I wanted Tess and I to pose for a photo in front of our new house that looked like "American Gothic," the 1930 oil painting by Grant Wood to commemorate our dream coming true. That being too complicated to arrange, I settled for the magic of PhotoShop to recreate it.

The original painting was inspired by a cottage Wood saw in a small Iowa town of Eldon. Wood asked his dentist and his sister Nan to pose for the painting that was later exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and won a $300 prize.

I apologize to Grant Wood for taking liberties with his original work to celebrate our new home. But I thought it captured the moment well.

Our real estate agent Bob dropped the keys off Monday night after I got off from work. I asked Tess to meet me at our new house. I bought a bottle of champagne, a rose and a couple of champagne flutes (since we'd packed everything). When she pulled up to the house, I met her and then picked her up and carried her across the threshold inside where we toasted our new home. We spent the evening finishing the champagne and marveling at how big and new the house was and how lucky we were.

On Tuesday, I went to work and Tess was left on her own to supervise the movers. They turned out to be two very large and slow moving guys who were paid by the hour to make sure our carefully packed possessions would reach our new house in exactly the number of hours the moving company estimated it would take. Much to Tess' irritation, the movers arrived at 9 a.m. stared at the boxes for 15 minutes and then announced they were taking a break. They also insisted Tess NOT help them (which was about as cruel as tying her in a chair and making her stare at a crooked picture on the wall an not letting her straighten it).

Despite the movers deliberate and methodical movements, they finished moving our stuff in just under seven hours. I met Tess at our old house and loaded my truck with some of the items I mentioned in my last blog entry that the movers would not move (guitars, food stuffs and electronic equipment). We took the load to the new house (that no longer looked big and spacious now that our boxes were stacked around) and then returned to pick up the other items the movers refused to transport: our cats.

Okay, I'm going to get this out of the way for all of you cat haters out there rolling your eyes. Yes, Tess and I are considered DINKs (double income, no kids) and yes we both own cats, and yes, we love our cats. There, I said it. This doesn't mean I don't like dogs or have issues. I've owned cats since I was 19 and consider them pretty cool animals that manipulate people and trample on your emotions much in the same way as humans do.

Tess has two cats: Keliki, a fat cat she adopted while teaching in Jakarta and Lahaina, a white trash cat she adopted while living in Puyallup, Washington. Keliki's distinction is that he traveled from Jakarta to Seattle on his own with a brief stay at a pet hotel in Amsterdam. I picked him up at the airport in Seattle (which was a sure sign that I loved Tess). Lahaina's distinction is that she is polydactyl (which means she has 13 toes total on her front paws). These cats were originally bred on the East coast in sea towns where they were valued for being pretty good mousers (and Lahaina would make a pretty good fielder for the Mariners with her built in mitts).
I own one cat. Her name is Bailey. She is very small, but is a natural born killer. I call her the ninja, because with her black fur and stealthy nature, she can blend with the shadows and slip in and out of rooms unnoticed. She does this a great deal because Bailey is extremely anti-social. She also has the ability to leap 8-feet in the air from a standstill. In her younger days, she was always bringing me dead rats, moles, mice, birds and one time a garter snake. Now she mainly sleeps. I've had her for eight years.

Now I know I've violated all of my rules about the types of blogs I hate to read. I've told you about our cats, but they are a crucial part of the story of our first night in the new house. We kept the cats segregated in our old house. Bailey stayed upstairs and Keliki and Lahaina stayed downstairs. We tried introducing them a few times, but Bailey, being anti-social and Keliki, being a fat, dominate male didn't take to each other. Lahaina didn't really care much one way or the other as long as she had a floor to roll around on. We figure it was a territorial thing and all of them would be on neutral ground once they were thrown together in our new house.

So we packed them all in their respective cat carriers and transported them to the new house. We released Lahaina first and she proceeded to find a closet to cower in. We released Bailey next. She was more proactive. Like a good Ninja, she surveyed the territory and made note of places to hide that were easy to defend and launch attacks from

We kept Keliki locked up in his carrying cage while the other two cats acclimated. I swear he sat there like Hannibal Lector calmly watching everything until we unlocked the box. Then he sprung into action and began snorting like a truffle pig taking in all of the scents and ranging around the room like wild animal.

At first I thought every one was going to get along like Rodney King had wished. But then Keliki scented Bailey and the chase was on. He cornered her behind a couch and tried to squeeze his fat behind in after her. Bailey began making sounds like a Bruce Lee film and Tess threw herself into the melee with a bottle of kitty mace she'd picked up at Pet Smart that was supposed to calm cats down. It just made Keliki wet and pissed him off more. Then she began throwing catnip at him in the hopes that he would be distracted. It did for a moment and he began rolling and licking the catnip off from his fur. Bailey took the opportunity to dart for the closet Lahaina was hiding in and the two began hissing and spitting. Lahaina dashed out and ran for the futon couch and stayed cowering there for the rest of the night.

To make a long story short, we spent the rest of evening refereeing the cats between trying to find stuff in boxes that we needed for the night. We did manage to make it to a Safeway to pick up a three-foot sub sandwich and some soup for dinner (our refrigerator won't be in until Friday). We finally went to bed on the mattress on the floor at midnight and slept fitfully during the calm moments between cat fights. Tess finally put Keliki in solitary confinement in the utility room and we were able to sleep the final couple hours before we had to get up.

I caught the train to work this morning left Tess to deal with the cats, the Satellite dish installer, and the delivery of our new living room set.

It's the Amarikan Dream, but I really could use some more sleep.


teri said...

Ohhh... what a sweetheart. Bottle of champagn, a rose and a couple of glasses...she's a very lucky woman.

I had to laugh about the cats... been there and done that. Too funny.

Time said...

Thanks Teri, I consider myself pretty lucky, too.

And I'm hoping the cats are calmed down by the time I get home. Wish me luck.

Hey Lights! Thanks. I get a kick out of Photoshop. It helps us paint reality as it should be.

The Humanity Critic said...

Just passing through, I'm liking the blog by the way.

Time said...

Thanks Humanity Critic, drop by anytime and thanks for not trying to link to a low interest mortgage site or sell me non-perscription Viagra.

Naughti Biscotti said...

Every time I move, I don't even see my cats for the first couple of weeks as they stay completely hidden. I have two cats, skinny little Ally Mcbeal ferret and my crazy little S&M kitty who loves to be smacked around and abused.

I also loved the photoshop pic. You are very good at it. I bought the program several months ago and am still trying to teach myself how to use it. GREAT JOB!!

Time said...

Thanks Shandi,
The cat wars continue, but Bailey has made her stand in our closet hidden by my hanging shirts (btw, Bailey likes to be smacked a bit, too). We lock Keliki in the utility room at night so we can sleep. Lahaina has recovered and simply rolls around on the carpet everytime we see her now.

I've been wondering how your Photoshop experience has been going. The trick is learning how to use layers.