Friday’s Weekend Column
Ice Storms, Classical Music, and Cats

by James Glaser
December 17, 2004

Last week a woman friend of mine was telling me about the perfect cat that she saw down at the Humane Society Shelter in Bemidji. She said the cat was huge, had seven toes on each paw, and that I would like him.

Saturday we went down for a look-see at the cat. She was prepared for me to get an animal, as she had a pet carrier ready to take along. I had never been to one of these shelters, so I didn't really know what to expect. We pulled up in front of the building and there were cats looking out the windows at the birds on the feeders hanging from the roof.

Walking in I saw a sign stating that we were being observed and that it was unlawful to just dump your pet at their door. When we got inside I was surprised that there was no odor of cats or dogs and everybody in there was just so happy and there were kids playing with kittens. There was a real friendly cat on the counter and a glass wall to the left looking in to the cat room. The woman I was with (I probably should have asked if I could use her name) was an old hand with places like this, She had been a foster care giver for animals and she had brought along dog and cat treats. She gave the dog treats to the people running the shelter and asks if we could go into the cat room and give out treats and they said, sure.

Now there were like 60 to 70 cats in these three rooms and lots of cages and the place was hospital clean. You might know the cat we came to see was adopted already. Seven toed cats don't last long I guess. Only a few cats were locked in their cages and the rest were free to roam. The room with the windows we saw the cats in when we drove up had a long carpet covered counter under the windows for the cats to sit and watch from and there was a little tunnel where the could go through to the other room.

This is a no kill shelter and these cats will be here forever if no one wants them. The cats in the locked cages were like the kind that were not happy campers and they let you know that they did not want you around. Every where little kittens were playing with each other, older cats were sleeping and it was fun to be in there giving out these little cubes of cat treats.

I could tell the woman I was with, was in heaven and if she could, she would have adopted every cat there and the cats could tell she loved them, because they would 'talk' to her and want her to pick them up, which she did. There was one neat moment, someone opened the wrong door and a dog stepped in and let me tell you he was more than ready to get out as about ten cats started shrieking at him. One skinny cat went totally bananas and looked just like an evil Halloween cat.

I couldn't make a decision about which one to take and I needed to buy cat food, litter, and get my house ready for a new permanent house guest. Cats are guests as they never do learn how to cook for themselves and you have to clean up after them for, well forever.

We went out to eat having a great Italian meal at Tutto Bene in Bemidji, I had linguine in red clam sauce and she had white clam sauce. We split a bruschetta. After a meal like that the day was pretty well over and I took her home, keeping the animal carrier so that I could go back down and get a cat when I was ready.

Leaving her driveway it started to rain and I had 40 miles to get home and it was below freezing, so I knew it would be a long trip. When I got on the highway I could feel the ice under the tires as I went sideways on the ramp, but when I got on the actual road things straightened out. I was in this long string of cars and trucks going north at about 35 miles an hour and the trucks were not trying to pass, so I knew the road was bad.

There were seven vehicles in front of me and ten behind and the last guy decided to pass us all. When he finally got all the way to the front he must have stepped on the gas a little heavy, because he did a 180 degree turn in the middle of the road and went into the ditch backwards. Everyone honked and waved as they passed. I figure if the big trucks are happy to move along at 35 mph, I better stay with them.

By the time I turned at Blackduck to head for Northome I was going 30 and nobody was catching up to me. It sure was nice to get home. All of my windows on the lake side of the house had a thick sheet of ice covering them and it was a job walking from the truck to the house.

I waited until Wednesday to go back down for a cat. It took that long before the roads were nice again. I had seen a couple of cats that would be OK. I wanted an adult cat as kittens are way too full of energy for me and they would destroy the house while I was working in the shop. Plus they think nothing of climbing up your leg, using their claws.

I finally decided that I would take the adult female cat, who had been there the longest and they knew right away who that was. Her name is Lidia. She had been there a year and when I picked her up she looked right in my eyes. They told me because she was black, she was hard to adopt out. She is black, but she has a white belly. I drove her home and we listened to classical music, which she seemed to like.

When I got her in the house and opened the carrier she came right out slinking real low around the room and I could tell she was scared. I let her alone and she parked herself in front of the refrigerator where the heat comes out. Then she noticed that I could see her there and she moved into the bathroom and hid behind the cast iron tub. She stayed there most of the night, but was gone when I got up. One time this morning she touched my leg and then took off again and I haven't seen her since.

It will take time, I have been talking to her all day so that she gets used to the sound of my voice and when I went to town I left on classical music real low. It is a big change for her, going from a place with dozens of cats to a place with none, but I am sure we will become good friends.

Even though the roads are nice, my deck and walkway are a sheet of ice and I have to be real careful when I walk on them. There is a crust of ice on the snow and that has to be hard on the shins for the deer. Lucky the snow isn't deep yet and they can stay on the path and avoid most of it.

I don't know what the ice on the lake is like, but there are fishermen everyplace they usually fish. They say on Red lake they are 3 to 4 miles out now. I hope no one is driving out there yet, but it wouldn't surprise me at all.

Next week winter starts, I think on the 21st and then it will get cold, at least that is what a man told me in town today and I hope he was wrong. I figure if we have been lucky for this long, we might as well be lucky all winter and have a record breaking warm winter. If that happens, maybe the heating fuel prices will come down because of lack of demand. I filled up the truck yesterday and it cost five dollars less that last time as gas was 22 cents a gallon cheaper. I like that.

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