Saturday, September 26, 2015

Little cat loves to torment big cat

I am not sure, but I suspect my daughter's kitten may have a death wish.
No, the little squirt is not running with knives, or smoking cigarettes, but she will just not leave the big cat alone.
Before Lisa the Kitten showed up, we had Gilbert the Cat. Gil is now 12 years old and is in no mood to play with an energetic little ball of fluff that bounces around house like a furry tornado.
Gilbert is much more of a sit-back-and-relax kind of guy. He is the mellowest cat in the planet, which is probably why Lisa, or Squeak as I call her, has made it this far without serious harm or injury.
When the kitten was brought home, Gil was not too pleased. This surprised me because Gil is so laid back nothing riles him up – well, almost nothing.
There is one thing that sends Gilbert on the war path and that is another cat. He has been the feline ruler of our neighbourhood for years and still takes on all comers.
Gil is my son's cat and he is a rather large cat. One day he was sitting on the front steps, minding his own business when a new cat in the 'hood decided to take on the top dog, er, I mean the top cat.
When the intruder first came into our yard, Gil noticed him, but he played it cool, as he always does.
He made a low moaning sound as a bit of a warning, but the intruder car kept coming until he was within a foot of the Gilbert, King of the Kitties.
It was at that point Gil had enough.
My son was witness to the event and proudly proclaimed, “Gil hit the other cat so hard, it pooped.”
And indeed he did. Gil smacked the invader upside the head with such force the cat dropped a boomer before fleeing as fast as he could. He never ventured into our yard again.
But fortunately for Squeak, Gil is also a gentle cat and when the little one decided the big one was a great play partner, the young one was gently educated.
Squeak ran up to Gil and pounced with all the ferocity a 10-week-old kitten could muster. Gil growled, moaned and hissed, but the youngster kept coming.
So, Gil smacked her upside the head. But it was not with nearly as much force as he used on the intruder and he did it without any claws.
It was kind of a warning shot across the bow. However, youthful exuberance has not yet made way to aged wisdom and Squeak still desperately tries to play with Gil, who will smack her with an open paw, but has never hurt her.
She will ambush him from the back of the couch – smack. Jump at him from around a corner – smack. Sneak up behind him – smack.
I believe Squeak has figured out Ol' Gil is a gentle giant – a grumpy gentle giant, but a gentle giant nonetheless.
And fortunately, she is also learning Gil is the boss, the Alpha cat and is starting to treat him as such.
And that is bad news for the the dog.
Murphy the Wonder Dog is now Squeak's favourite target and she will stalk and hunt Murphy every chance she gets.
At first, Murphy would jump up, down or sideways to avoid the attack, but eventually he realized the attacks of the little cat were nothing worry about.
Now when she attacks Murphy just looks at her and keeps doing whatever it was he was doing.
Squeak the Mini Cat does not care and bounds away only to attack again a few minutes later – when she is done attacking my shoes, or the curtains, or lint, or...

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, September 19, 2015

So long Junior, I will miss you. Who knew?

So my oldest child has flown the coop.
While hardly a kid anymore – he is 22 years old after all – he will always be a child because I was there when he was barely old enough to lay in a crib and wiggle.
I know many people who watched as their children spread their wings and took off, but to be perfectly honest, at the time, I really didn't understand what the big deal was.
I moved out when I was a young man, just like billions of other young people have done throughout the course of time.
As the papa bear, it was my job to raise my children to the point where they are able to move out on their own, then it was “Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out.”
I know a papa bear might not be the best example of parenting in the wild because an adult male bear will attack any other male bear that comes in his territory, even his own child.
But considering male lions eat their young, I think I will with the bruin analogy.
I have never attacked my kids, nor threatened to eat them, so I guess I am doing OK.
Anyway, Junior reached an age where he wanted to take off on his own, to explore new worlds, to live in a different city than the one he was raised.
It was a day I had been thinking about for years, but when the day came I was not doing cartwheels across the lawn – mainly because I am way to old to be doing cartwheels across the lawn - but also because I was not that thrilled with Junior jumping from the nest.
What? What is this? What is this odd feeling I have? I did my job, I raised him as best I could and now I should be able to sit back, wave goodbye and get on with getting the other two out of the house.
But instead of seeing a young man spreading his wings, all I could see was the little boy who held so many grasshoppers in one hand their guts were squishing between his fingers.
Suddenly, the big, tough papa bear was feeling more like a hormonal tween.
During the eight-hour drive to his new city – I helped him move like any papa bear would – all I could think of was the days gone by and the moments a father shares with his young son.
Was I sad Junior was all grown up, something I had worked hard to help make happen?
I surprised even myself because I was.
That can't be right. I'm the big tough papa bear. It was the mama bear who was supposed to be sad little bear is leaving the clan. Papa bear is the one who was supposed to hold the door as Junior made an exit before doing a little dance because it was one down and two to go.
But there I was, the big tough papa bear feeling very melancholy about Junior leaving the cave.
I know it is how life works: you are born, you are a baby, then a kid, then a teen, then a young man and then you move out.
I was ready for it, prepared for it, at times I was almost longing for it so imagine my surprise when I was saddened by it.
With Junior gone there would be things like left overs in the fridge, gas in my car and finally a spare room where I could put my treadmill – yes I actually use the treadmill for more than collecting dust.
Hmm, perhaps there is some good to Junior flying the coop and striking out on his own. I just wonder if his flight will imitate that of a homing pigeon.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Saturday, September 12, 2015

It's just a boo-boo, they're fine

I saw a meme the other day that said it is a shame children today do not get to experience getting hit in the face by a big red ball during a game of dodgeball.
And they are right.
I loved dodgeball when I was in school, mainly because I was really good at it.
I could twist and turn and was rarely taken out of the game. I did get hit in the face a couple times, but that was just part of the fun.
We did all sorts of sports, games and goofing around that ended in minor injuries. It was called being a kid and it was something we all accepted as simply part of life.
In elementary school, we used to play tackle football at lunch without any gear. We could have played flag football I guess, but it was just not the same.
Following a rambunctious 30-minute game, just about everyone had some sort of minor injury from grass burns on our elbows to bruises and even the occasional black eye – which was worn as a badge of honour. But we were all ready to go again the next day.
Nowadays, teachers and parents are so worried about Junior getting a boo-boo they have banned pretty much all contact sports. One school even banned tag because a child might fall and hurt themselves while running from the person who was 'it.'
Really? Tag is nothing but running and fitness and building your cardio. And then they wonder why Junior is so, um, er, weight enhanced at such a young age.
I played hours of tag when I was a kid and I don't ever recall someone getting hurt.
If someone fell down, they dusted themselves off and got back up – simple as that. The worst part of falling down was it usually meant whoever was chasing you, caught you and now you were it.
No need to call the paramedics for that.
Another school banned soccer because – you guessed it – someone might get hurt. Here is another sport that involves nothing but running around a field. There is no tackling, body checking or any real physical contact, but someone was worried some how a child could receive a minor injury while having fun so they had better cancel having fun.
It's all part of the 'helicopter parenting' that has taken hold of North America in its overly cautious grip.
I admit, I too have been a hovering parent at times, but not so much when it came to letting my boys be boys.
Every parent wants to protect their child, but there is a time when you simply have to step back and them get a bruise or two.
It's part of life. I did it, my dad did it, his dad did it and so on and we all survived.
I am not saying to let them jump off a small cliff holding onto a bed sheet as a parachute because that really hurts, but a little rough housing is just fine.
Oh, and also maybe don't let them try to jump from branch of a pine tree to another because if they miss that really hurts too.
But my sons would often come home with bruises from skateboarding or crashing their peddle bikes – something I had done more times than my mom could recall – and they are now healthy adults with a few scars to tell stories about with their friends.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

Thursday, September 3, 2015

If I give you a doughnut, will you go away?

The excuses started forming the instant I saw him.
The 'him' to which I refer was a cop sitting on a little pull out road at the side of the highway. I was the guy in the little red car going slightly faster than what some official type decided was good for the motoring public.
I was not breaking the sound barrier or anything, but my speedometer did nudge past the legal 90 km/h allowed by that official type guy.
I am not totally sure how it happened. I do drive a Toyota, so maybe I could plead mechanical woes and deny the heightened speed was my fault.
Darn those Toyota engineers and their wonky gas pedals.
Anyway, I noticed the keeper of the peace sitting in his car as I zoomed past and I knew I had been had - caught red handed, or in this case, lead footed.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but my water broke and..."
OK, that one isn't gonna work.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but I think speed limits suck."
OK, not the best way to try and talk your way out of a ticket.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but I am late for work and if I am late one more time my cruel and heartless boss will fire me and my children will end up begging in the street. Please, kind and wise constable, think of the children. I beg of you, think of the children."
OK, that one might be a little over the top.
"Say, um, Mr. Policeman, uh, how many boxes of donuts will it take to make this whole thing go away?"
Definitely not the right approach.
Realizing arguing with a traffic cop who has you dead to rights is like trying to outrun a dog - it just isn't going to happen - I then switched to resignation mode.
I resigned myself to the fact I was going to get a speeding ticket, my first in many years.
There was a time in my youth when I had amassed enough tickets to wallpaper by bedroom - and not just one wall, but the entire room.
Back in 'the day' I didn't just have a lead foot, my entire right leg was made of the stuff because I just could not stay off the gas and personal interaction with the local law-enforcement community was the result.
I was not a bad guy or anything. I didn't drink, I didn't do drugs, but I did have a tendency to drive in a manner that was in conflict with rules set out by that official type guy I was talking about earlier.
But with age comes maturity, and with maturity comes a realization that the three minutes I save by speeding are not worth the fines and hassles of getting a ticket.
But on this particular day, I simply was not paying attention to how fast I was going - until I saw the Kojak with the Kodak on the side of the road, then my speed became the most important thing I could think of.
I saw the cop car and immediately looked at the speedometer to find I was going almost 20 km/h over the limit. Oops.
Realizing my sin against traffic laws, I slowed down and watched the cop car for those pretty little lights to come on, but they never did.
In fact, the cop did not even pull out of his hiding spot.
Hallelujah, more proof God loves me.
After a few seconds I began to relax. I also decided to keep a closer eye on how fast I was going, which was a good thing because the second cop I saw a couple of klicks down the road may not have been so forgiving, and besides, I was all out of donuts.