Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Journal of the Plague Year, 6

It was so frigid and blustery today that it was far better to stay in Casa Ringworm, despite the strong scent of gunpowder emitting from four freshly lime-sulfur-dipped cats, than to brave the Back Bay road grit flying into my contact lenses. (I'm sleepy and wiped-out today, and my sinuses bother me. I was so out-of-it yesterday, too, that I lost a contact lens in the shower and only realized it after I was dried off and dressed in the next room. And my eyesight is terrible. I found the lens on the bathtub drain next to Possum, who never sits in the tub.)

These days, all I really want to do is hibernate, curled up with my cats. And eat cookies.

We finally got the results of the first set of ringworm cultures done on all four cats. These were technically supposed to be finished on Christmas Day, and it turns out they are still not entirely complete. We know that three cats — Wendy, Possum, Snictoria — are negative. But Snalbert, who is sort of  a Persian dust-mop, has an unidentified "contaminant" in his culture that won't be identifiable until next week. It could be ringworm, or not. By then, the second set of cultures (negative so far) on just the kittens should be ready, too. If everything is negative, we can stop getting everyone dipped and have them bathed instead, to try to remove the stinky sulfur that's accumulated on them over many weeks.

There is yet a third set of cultures for the kittens, but I can't think about that. I'm too excited to be near the possible end of living like a semi-refugee in Casa Ringworm. I miss my curtains, cushions, and carpets: the windows look naked, the chairs are uncomfortable, the floors are chilly. I miss my Ralph Lauren paisley sofa slipcover: Indian bedspreads are a poor substitute, no matter how cute they are. I miss our super-heavy down comforter on these freezing nights, when breezes blow through our bedroom from the caulked but still-leaky windows. We've been making do with a cheap, washable, fleece blanket. I miss having friends over for a cup of tea. I miss everything — except my vacuum cleaner. We've become very close since October. I think of my Miele fondly, my staunch ally in the Ringworm Wars.

The groomer who has been dipping our cats — the only one in all of Greater Boston willing to commit to this messy, smelly, potentially hazardous weekly treatment — is apparently a witch. At least she wears a Wiccan pentagram pendant. Spotting it around her neck it made me feel strangely relieved. I trust her even more now. Wiccans are supposed to be more attuned to nature than the rest of us, because their religion revolves around observing, understanding, and celebrating all living things, the cycles of nature, and the changing seasons. So it makes perfect sense that she doesn't shy away from the stinky chemicals and invisible (living) spores of this world. It's all one to a good, wise witch. I respect that. I haven't mentioned any of this to her, but if an opportunity arises, I'd like to ask her about it. Modern witchcraft intrigues me.

She's told us that Possum is her favorite of our cats. Of course he is — he's a purring, snuggling, feline version of Johnny Depp, with his huge dark eyes. (He's begun visiting me in bed before dawn, purring and demanding attention, sticking his sweet little nose up my nostril to wake me up. I can't refuse.)

The groomer's second favorite is Snicky; she says Snicky is "girly" and sweet. It's true: Snicky even walks with her front paws turned out in First Position, like a ballerina. The groomer is looking forward to bathing her, fluffing up her Persian coat, and sticking a bow on her head. I don't know how I feel about this. Okay, I know; I hate bows on cats' heads. But after all she's done for us, at some personal cost, she can stick bows all over all of them if it makes her happy.

I suspect that Snalbert is her least favorite; he howls his head off nonstop the whole time he's there, and wriggles like crazy as he's being dipped. As for Wendy, she's always a well-behaved young lady even if her two little spotty ears are what started all this fuss and expense.

Let's hope we've smelled the last of fresh lime-sulfur. The kittens probably think it's just the normal routine, being too young to know anything else. (Perhaps the older cats have told them otherwise.) I don't know how we'll ever get all that smelly residue off of everything in the house — we have to wash our hands several times to get them sulfur-free after we pet someone, and everything comes out of the dryer reeking of baked sulfur. But I can't wait to even try to get this place back to normal.

Maybe in just about two more weeks....

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